There’s been a bit of a stir about the pregnant teens in Gloucester, Massachusetts. The story is all over the internet, starting with Time, the AP, and Feministing. I’ve got some issues with the stories.
Firstly, time is saying that the following:
The high school has done perhaps too good a job of embracing young mothers. Sex-ed classes end freshman year at Gloucester, where teen parents are encouraged to take their children to a free on-site day-care center. Strollers mingle seamlessly in school hallways among cheerleaders and junior ROTC. “We’re proud to help the mothers stay in school,” says Sue Todd, CEO of Pathways for Children, which runs the day-care center.
The problem that I see is that they’re pointing out that maybe the reasons the kids are deciding to get pregnant is because they don’t have to struggle in order to find proper care takers when they’re at school. Maybe they should stay home and take care of the babies instead, making up part of the population who drop out of school instead. This way we could make them welfare mothers instead of educated women.
What these people should be looking at is what is going on with them in the community, in their schools, with their friends, and even in their homes.
Superintendent Christopher Farmer confirmed the deal to WBZ-TV, saying the girls had “an agreement to get pregnant.”
He said the girls are generally “girls who lack self-esteem and have a lack of love in their life.”
But Amanda Ireland, who graduated from Gloucester High on June 8, thinks she knows why these girls wanted to get pregnant. Ireland, 18, gave birth her freshman year and says some of her now pregnant schoolmates regularly approached her in the hall, remarking how lucky she was to have a baby. “They’re so excited to finally have someone to love them unconditionally,” Ireland says. “I try to explain it’s hard to feel loved when an infant is screaming to be fed at 3 a.m.” [emphasis mine]
What’s going on over there??? Why do they feel that the only way for them to have unconditional love is to become mothers?? That’s what we should really be looking at, not whether or not access to child care is too easily available for them.
There is some talk as well about how maybe birth control isn’t available to these girls, but I think in this case, easy access to birth control wouldn’t have made a difference because they consciously decided they wanted to get pregnant together. Why in the world they would want to change their lives in such a drastic way is beyond me, but I think the root of the problem lies in their issues with their self esteem and the fact that they’re seeking attention and affection that for some unknown reason they feel is lacking in their lives.
But by May, after nurse practitioner Kim Daly had administered some 150 pregnancy tests at Gloucester High’s student clinic, she and the clinic’s medical director, Dr. Brian Orr, a local pediatrician, began to advocate prescribing contraceptives regardless of parental consent, a practice at about 15 public high schools in Massachusetts. Currently Gloucester teens must travel about 20 miles (30 km) to reach the nearest women’s health clinic; younger girls have to get a ride or take the train and walk. But the notion of a school handing out birth control pills has met with hostility. Says Mayor Carolyn Kirk: “Dr. Orr and Ms. Daly have no right to decide this for our children.” The pair resigned in protest on May 30.
Gloucester’s elected school committee plans to vote later this summer on whether to provide contraceptives. But that won’t do much to solve the issue of teens wanting to get pregnant. Says rising junior Kacia Lowe, who is a classmate of the pactmakers’: “No one’s offered them a better option.” And better options may be a tall order in a city so uncertain of its future.
I agree with the above sentence, but I also agree that birth control should be made readily available at EVERY school for the kids who wish to use them. I think these teens rights to birth control in this town where they state that they “must travel about 20 miles (30 km) to reach the nearest women’s health clinic” is definitely an issue. I don’t know how their parents feel about them being on birth control, but I think any parent should agree that the teens would be better of on birth control than having the responsibility of raising a child before they’re ready or going through the choice of having an abortion if they so wish. I’m sure they would want their kids to practice abstinence, but it would be ignorant to expect them to because they’re going to do what they want regardless of what they’re taught.
Teaching them about birth control and having it readily available for them would be the most logical and responsible thing we could do for our kids and I think Dr. Orr is headed in the right direction by advocating prescription birth control at the schools.