June 20th, 2008
05:50 PM ET

A teenage pact to get pregnant?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/20/art.gloucesterhigh.jpg]
Randi Kaye BIO
AC360° Correspondent

I don’t know about you, but I remember high school was pretty tough. Remember the awkward years and all the peer pressure to be cool?

Well at Gloucester High School in Gloucester, Massachusetts, apparently a group of girls thought it would be “cool” to get pregnant. This school year, 17 girls – some as young as 15 – got pregnant. Most of the girls are sophomores.

School officials say there may have been some type of pact do this. One girl apparently went so far as to get pregnant by a homeless guy just to be a part of it.

Can you imagine?

We even met one man who says his stepdaughter felt the pressure to be a part of the pact. Ted Sorenson told me, “There was a tremendous amount of pressure, negative peer pressure, for as many girls to join in the pact. Luckily my stepdaughter was smart enough or scared enough to say no.”

Apparently, administrators grew curious last October when all of a sudden so many girls started asking the school nurse for pregnancy tests. She reportedly gave about 150 pregnancy tests. The school superintendent, Charlie Farmer, told me that the girls went back over and over for tests until they got the results they wanted.

And, even more disturbing, he said that some of them were high-fiving after they found out they were indeed pregnant.

I spent the day in Gloucester talking to school officials and parents in the community for the story for Anderson Cooper 360° tonght and the one word I heard over and over again was “disgusting.” Parents are in shock.

There are a few theories floating around town. Some say parents are working two jobs since the economy is so weak and aren’t focused on their kids. One woman, a school nurse, said these girls are probably seeking welfare, since the children in this community seem to be lacking direction. Others blame Hollywood. Movies like “Juno” seem to glamorize teen pregnancy. And just this week, 16-year old actress Jamie Lynn Spears had her baby. (She plans to marry the father)

Here are a few other things you should know about this story. Gloucester High School stops teaching sex education after freshman year. I asked the superintendent why? He told me they don’t have enough money in the budget to keep teaching it. Also, there is a free daycare center at the school. Officials acknowledge that may make it easier for teenage moms but the goal is to keep them in school.

And get this, the school’s nurse and doctor resigned after getting criticized for giving out birth control to female students. The school district is now considering allowing birth control to be dispensed though a decision isn’t expected any time soon.

Program note: Watch Randi Kaye’s report on Friday’s AC360° at 10p ET.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Randi Kaye
soundoff (71 Responses)
  1. Dasun

    Human extinction begun, So we get prepared to face this problem.
    Think SMART...

    June 23, 2008 at 12:22 am |
  2. Grace

    I know kids can lie to their parents but parents need to be talking to their kids long before something like this happens. Check up on them and let them know you will. Its not the responsibility of the school district. It is the responsibility of the parents, to know where their kids are and what their doing.

    June 22, 2008 at 10:20 pm |
  3. john cox

    I told both of my daughters that if they get pregnant they are grounded for 18 years. It worked.

    June 22, 2008 at 10:12 pm |
  4. AJ

    These girls parents are the ones who are going to have to end up raising them – that seems to be a sad trend. Seems like the girls are just looking for attention. I also do think Hollywood over glamorizes the celeb mom idea. They make it look overly easy.

    June 22, 2008 at 9:22 pm |
  5. Duncan, MO

    A pregnacy pact by a bunch of high school sophomores is about the stupidest thing I have ever heard of. I know teenage sexuality and teenage pregnancies are on the rise, but to purposely want to get pregnant to be cool is absolutely ridiculous. This is a group of spoiled brats that aren't capable of thinking beyond next week. Who is going to raise these babies? These girls may be able to get welfare to pay rent and buy formula, but welfare doesn't pay someone to change the diapers or get up with the baby at 3 in morning, or stay up all night with a teething baby. What's going to happen when these girls decide this isn't as fun as they thought it was going to be. You can't just quit being a parent like you can quit a sports team when it gets too hard, or you don't want to work for it.

    One thing I would like to see come out of this would be for CNN to keep following up with these girls, showing that being a 16 year old mother isn't cool. Show what these girls are going to have to give up. Show them not being able to buy the latest must have pair of sneakers or jeans because they have to buy formula, baby food and diapers. Show them not getting to go to the prom because they have a sick baby or can't find a sitter, or just because none of the boys will want to bring a mother to the prom. Basically show that there is a real responsibility to being a parent, it's not all just so much fun for all of us best friends to raise our babies together. Then provide this documentary to every middle school and high school in the country in the hopes that it will deter any other stupid girls from doing this same idiotic thing.

    June 22, 2008 at 7:52 pm |
  6. Jen

    I see a lot of "I blame the parents". Maybe they can be blamed for the pact, but not all parents can be blamed for their teenager getting pregnant. I have a friend that had a daughter when she was 17 (not on purpose). Her mother was a great mom. Involve in her life and acivities, got to know all of her friends. She was beyond upset when she found out her daughter was going to be a teenage mother. It is not always lack of vigilance on a parent, sometimes kids just manage to be sneaky enough to go out and get what they want. My friend now has a different perspective than her mother did. Her daughter is 9 now. She's in all advanced classes in school and is one of the most polite and well behaved children I have ever met. My friend has turned into an exceptional mother.

    Also, I agree that getting pregnant is the easy part and that giving birth is the second easitest part. I have three children and wile labor was a nighmare all three times, it is a lot harder to raise a child than it is to deliver one.

    June 22, 2008 at 7:39 pm |
  7. Logan

    Lets say one 14 year old child, has a child in the year 2008, that child "grows up" and has a child at the same age 14 in the year 2022. And this continues, by 2036 we will have 42 year old grandparents. By 2050 we will for the first time will commonly have 4 generations of families above ground and great grandparents not even old enough to retire, at 56, and since people in the future presumably will be living longer, So a fifth generation and a sixth generation of one family could be all living together in the year 2078 with great great grandparents at 84 and the youngest giving birth to her first at age 14!
    This disturbs me greatly! And is already happening!

    June 22, 2008 at 3:26 pm |
  8. Jessica

    I think it is understandable for those teenagers to get pregnant . As people say because of thier parents' neglect to thier children or school did not have enough education to these teens. added to that, teens in this stage in time are like to meet challenge, just you and I,but we just on different way. or they just wanna prove themselves on being eldder. they just on a wrong way.

    parents 'care is important, but peer' care is more necessary.

    June 22, 2008 at 11:06 am |
  9. Shumila

    I said this would happen. Right after watching Juno and walking out of the theater, I turned to my sister and said this would happen. Thanks to Juno and the many celebrities that keep popping babies out and claiming that pregnancy makes them feel sexy (i.e. Angelina Jolie) these teens are going to keep getting pregnant. Parents and schools can do very little about this.

    June 22, 2008 at 6:03 am |
  10. eliza Dekna

    what a headache! I think of AC360 as reasonably measured thoughtful exposure to news and 'stuff'.
    Watching this segment was awful. The woman commentator talking on the split screen with the idiotic screen of 'legs and strollers' loop and the psychodelic background which is so ugly, the dumb crawl, not one but two, with it's incessant "BREAKING NEWS".
    If something were actually breaking what would you call it? REAL BREAKING NEWS. I shut my eyes to wait for the next segment but couldn't make it.

    June 21, 2008 at 6:22 pm |
  11. Cathleen, OR

    Everyone needs love and encouragement and friends. One of the
    keys is to find these in the right places. Family is the foundation;
    parenthood is an awesome responsibility. A parent is a leader and
    must lead by example; we need to have values and a lifestyle that
    reflects great values and ethics. We all make mistakes; the best
    thing to do with our children is to be honest about our shortcomings
    and mistakes, ask for forgiveness when applicable, and move to
    the right direction. We all need forgiveness, and we all need right
    relationships. I find the Bible as my source of strengh and
    direction. Read the Gospel of John, for in it Jesus heals many
    people both sick and sinners.

    June 21, 2008 at 6:03 pm |
  12. Dan

    C'mon. I know this is commercial television news, and so you have a lot of bubbleheads working there. And it's late-period *cable* news, so almost everyone involved is a bubblehead. But if you're going to assert that the movie Juno "glamorized" teen pregnancy, you're going to have to do something more than simply assert it. If "Randi" were an actual reporter, her print editor would have said, "hey, you can't say that people are blaming Juno without naming at least one of those people and then showing precisely *how* they think Juno "glamorized" teen pregnancy."

    Which is why so few vacuous bubbleheads work for newspapers.

    June 21, 2008 at 4:41 pm |
  13. Lorayne Salas

    I think we have to look at the whole picture here. A great deal of dynamics are taking place for this kind of thing to happen.

    But most of all what needs to be addressed is the religious aspect.
    What is sorely lacking is spiritual guideance for these teens. At the risk of being a prude, we need to go back to teaching that there is a reason we should wait until being married.

    June 21, 2008 at 4:24 pm |
  14. TJ, MS

    I would just first like to say that the stereotypes of the homeless man sicken me. I too was homeless due to a streak of bad luck. I wasn't on drugs, I had a job, I was doing well. The landlord lost his apartment complex, and therefore, I had no place to go. To assume that because someone is homeless mean they are dirty, or uneducated is just modern day biggotry.

    Now that I have said that, back to the girls. It is not the media's responsibility to censor pregnant celebrities and it's not 'Juno' that is responsibility to teach these girls right from wrong. It is the parents that must be looked at for not being intrusive enough in their daughter's lives, along with the boys who ended up getting these girls pregnant. But it is, bottom line, the girl's decision. No matter what kind of pressure that they were put under, they made the decision. They will know soon enough how irresponsible this decision was.

    June 21, 2008 at 12:37 pm |
  15. Stan (Austin, Texas)

    I am afraid all this media attention will get other girls excited about starting their own pregnancy club.

    June 21, 2008 at 10:55 am |
  16. Mandy S

    If you do the math, there are approximately 34 parents out there (of the teens, that is).

    Isn't it unfortunate that out of nearly 3 dozen parents, no one was "in tune" enough with their daughter's life to know what was going on and thwart this unfortunate plan?

    Parents! Wake up and parent again!

    June 21, 2008 at 10:54 am |
  17. kathy V

    It must be because they legalized gay marriage! It is bringing down all of our youth. LOL.

    June 21, 2008 at 10:51 am |
  18. Denis

    Living in a small town about an hour from Rio de Janeiro, certanly a different reality all together, this comes as no surprise.
    No expectations, no guidance and quite poor values created a situation very similar in my town. Girls get pregnant because it's a thril and somewhat of a career choice, since they have no other.
    Sad, but the world we live in.
    I'm talking middle-class kids (ok, middle-class varies a lot from one reality to another), but still...

    June 21, 2008 at 10:19 am |
  19. Stephanie in Denver

    The speculation over this whole subject generally overlooks the discrepancy between ideal and reality. I was glad that it was mentioned by the psychologist on tonight–too many people (not only teenagers) have a fantasy vision of what babies are like: cute, cuddly, an absorption of unconditional love...and do not have a clear picture on the reality.
    Having been 14 when my sister was born, I maintain that the best prevention for young pregnancies is living with a baby. If every teenage/young woman lived with a baby, woke up in the middle of the night, dealt with the crying...I have no doubt that young pregnancies would drop off dramatically.

    Also, it's very easy to point fingers and criticize...but if we are to be honest, this is not the product of one isolated cause (not enough love, economics, "Hollywood culture") but rather points to a much larger underlying social issue.

    June 21, 2008 at 3:00 am |
  20. Stella Thorp

    Hi Anderson!!! I just have one question about the situation at Gloucester High. The principal said that the reason sex ed. was not offered past the Freshman year was because of poor funding from the state of Mass. But free day care is provided to these girls right there at the school. Day care costs a lot more than sex ed... Hmmmm... Maybe the real reason is that Gloucester High, like so many high schools, is under pressure to teach only "abstinece." Sex ed is seen as encouraging sex, and school administrators are afraid to get into the controversy surrounding it. Once again we see that, when it comes to sex education, ignorance is not bliss.

    June 21, 2008 at 2:57 am |
  21. Gabe

    I believe that this is no ones fault besides the parents, you can have who ever you want come in and blame Britany Spears, Juno and the media, but ultimitly it comes back to the parents. I am a 15 male, my mom raised me as a single mother, but she is a great mother, and always talks to me about current issues, but is never overbearing. I believe that many parents use the media as a scapegoat to shift blame for things like this to someone else, this upsets me,and being a teen myself, knows it is not true. I have played Grand Theft Auto and other violent video games, and i've never felt the urge to kil, or steal from people, i've watched movies where people do drugs, i never have. I am insulted when people talk about teens being so mindless and that they will follow anything "hip". I would hope that parent who would see this article would'nt rush to turn off the TV, or throw away thier childrens " questionable" CDs, but just talk to thier kids.


    June 21, 2008 at 2:14 am |
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