Last week Time Magazine got the talk shows buzzing when it quoted Joseph Sullivan, the principal of a Gloucester, Mass. high school, saying that the reason 17 girls were pregnant is that they’d made a pact:
By May, several students had returned multiple times to get pregnancy tests, and on hearing the results, “some girls seemed more upset when they weren’t pregnant than when they were,” Sullivan says. All it took was a few simple questions before nearly half the expecting students, none older than 16, confessed to making a pact to get pregnant and raise their babies together. Then the story got worse. “We found out one of the fathers is a 24-year-old homeless guy,” the principal says, shaking his head.
Today, Gloucester officials held a meeting on the situation and then announced there is no proof such a pact exists. Curiously, Sullivan wasn’t invited to the meeting.
But it appears the “pact” story didn’t originate there, but with the Gloucester Daily Times, whose editor, Ray Lamont writes:
Through stories and editorials, we have occasionally noted that at least some of the 18 girls who became pregnant this past school year did so intentionally, with the idea that it might be “cool” to “become moms” and raise the babies together. Could that be considered some sort of informal “pact”? Maybe. It depends on how formally one defines that word. But one thing has become certain over the past two days — that’s the fact that “pact” can certainly be a magic word. As soon as Time magazine reported the presence of a “pregnancy pact” — as its headline blared in its online edition Thursday — this story, which had already sparked local and some national talk about teen pregnancy and the distribution of contraceptives in schools, exploded worldwide.
The Gloucester paper reported in March that many of the girls who became preganant this year appeared to do it on purpose.
Lamont thinks everybody missed the story: that none of the girls dropped out of school, thanks in large measure to a now overcrowded (and certainly controversial) day care center at the school.
Even with the high number of pregnancies at the 1,200-student high school, the teen pregnancy rate is about 3 percent, not far from the 2.7% teen pregnancy rate reported in that city in 2006.
In Minnesota, according to statistics released by the Minnesota Organization on Adolescent Pregnancy, Prevention & Parenting, Minnesota’s teen birthrate in 2006 (the latest year for which statistics seem to be available) was 4.9 %.