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As goes Gloucester?

Debating the ‘pregnancy pact’ will not make a surge in teenage motherhood   disappear
By EDITORIAL  |  June 25, 2008

Waves of chatter wash over the city of Gloucester, where 17 high-school students are pregnant. But for all the yapping in print, online, and over the airwaves, there’s little clarity — and even less wisdom — to be found.

The rip tide of publicity that hit the blue-collar fishing port comes from the disturbing story in Time magazine that approximately half of the now-pregnant girls made a pact to have children and raise them together, giving unintended meaning to the concept “it takes a village.”

The idea that there was a “pact” was clearly attributed to high-school principal Joseph Sullivan. He, it appears, has been muzzled by local authorities and is now on vacation, unavailable for follow-up.

Into the breach steps Gloucester mayor Carolyn Kirk, a political newcomer with a lot of energy and a can-do style that helped her win office. Kirk may have succeeded in raising questions about the existence of a pact. She has not, however, been able to alter the underlying reality that at least some of the girls — pact or no pact, widespread or smaller than suggested — wanted to get pregnant. “Pinkies up” is not an appropriate strategy in this situation.

Conservatives should take note of the fact that Gloucester has, well, a piss-poor sex-education program. Its opposition to making birth control available — some fear it might promote sexual license — seems asinine given the number of pregnant girls at Gloucester High, not to mention the number who already walk the halls with baby strollers. Unwanted pregnancy is not the only issue. There are also sexually transmitted diseases to consider, and the possibility of HIV infection. By several measures, the Gloucester community is being dangerously irresponsible.

Liberals likewise should be chastened. The overall sex-education program may leave some wanting in Gloucester, but short of birth control, sex-oriented health-care services are available. The question of whether single, teenage girls who want to become pregnant can be dissuaded is a bit of a new frontier. The situation is more complicated than teaching the facts of life. Sociology trumps biology.

One of the factors making it difficult to understand what is going on in Gloucester is the age of the girls involved. Old enough to become pregnant, they are sufficiently young that news organizations are reluctant to report on them in detail. Privacy, of course, is a humane consideration. But it’s hard to imagine that the issue of parental consent isn’t also at play: old enough to get pregnant, but too young to be quoted in the papers without the okay of a parent.

This raises the intrusive question, “Where was mom?” And the uncomfortable question, “Was there even a dad?” Reading between the lines of the various news accounts, it seems clear that a significant number of the girls in question come from less-than-stable households mired in some degree of economic strain or distress.

Confronting issues raised by economic class is not something most Americans — or Massachusetts residents, for that matter — do with any degree of comfort. At a time when the gap between the rich and the poor, between the working and middle class, grows ever wider, this reticence is more than misplaced. It is destructive and counterproductive.

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Related: The Pill + Me, A bitter pill, Alito and Co. deal a bitter blow to American women, More more >
  Topics: The Editorial Page , Culture and Lifestyle, Health and Fitness, Medicine,  More more >
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Pretty dumn
 Nowhere in the St.Louis area on the Illinois side do I know of a school that has a daycare. So in that respect its a novel idea to help needy women continue there education.    However its pretty sickening that these girls are under the Legal age  having intercourse and getting pregenant. The Pedophiles in that community must be through the roof. They should fire there local police force and hire men that give a crap. I have heard nothing out of the local Police force finding these scum bag Pedophile Fathers and beating some justice into these sleezes. Lock em up and throw away the key, they wont be paying child support and you damn well know this! Furthermore the Mayor is a Dope. No hastened policy to make birth control readily available? No condomns? No Pill? If you think birth control is evil ... imagine Africa and it's Aids epedemic. Hundreds of thousands of people dieing from that and many other STD's daily . We live in a civilized society right? In a civilized society you contain a problem and limit its impact on communities. A Teen girl is not cattle and should not be Sheparded by Gospel into believing the world is a better place than what it really is. Reality - The world is a brutal, unfair, unjust place to live in. Men are the complete embodiement of evil. I know becuase i am a man. Most rapes are commited by men. Most crimes are commited by men. Preventing these so called "Men" from taking advantage of children and knocking them up is just one way at giving people a fair shot at fullfilling the American Dream. Wake UP!

By Ajndrews on 06/26/2008 at 11:34:06
Re: As goes Gloucester?
I read with interest the June 23rd to July 3rd Boston Phoenix Editorial, "As goes Gloucester?
To me the two most important lines in the Phoenix editorial are: "Was there even a dad?", and, "Rather than stick her head in the sand, Mayor Kirk could have issue a wake up call.  Someone should."
The total "wake up call" is the promotion of father-less-ness in our great land and the effects it is having on society and the never ending cycle of young girls having babies and raising them without dads, as probably the children of Gloucester will be.  No other country has as many single mothers and children raised without dads as does our country.  Some 28% or close to  20 million children are raised without fathers.  Studies have demonstrated that children raised without a father are far more likely to have early sexual encounters and to get pregnant at earlier ages.  This is just one of the symptoms of being raised without dads.  There are many more.
So what is the answer.  Part of the answers is to bring back fathers into kids lives and create incentives to do so.  Currently the incentives are just the opposite.  Title IV d of the Social Security Act actually has perverse incentives for single motherhood and for the elimination of fathers from children's lives.  Only 6 states have adopted equal Shared Parenting laws, so that post separation and divorce, parents, mainly fathers, if fit, could have an equal right to raise their children.  The legislature in Massachusetts, specifically the Judiciary Committee once again buried the bill into study, the nice name for killing a bill.  This is despite the fact that in a non binding ballot question in 2004 over 86% of those communities who could vote on the issue did vote for equal shared parenting.  Finally, Family and Probate Courts have to be more respectful of the role of fathers and do more to encourage and rule so that fathers can stay involved in kids lives. The public has no idea what father have to do just to try and stay involved in their kids lives in our state.  While restraining orders seem like a good idea, they have been abused and misused to gain custody of children, to the detriment of these kids and society.  In Massachusetts some 30,000 to 50,000 restraining orders are taken out every year.  Yes, tragically less than 100 men and women are killed each year in domestic disputes. Restraining orders have not done one thing to stop these horrific acts, and probably never will.   However, for a mother to throw a father out of their children's lives is to just claim, "fear", than, check off a box on a piece of paper and whoosh, no more dad.  This lack of true Due Process is wrong. It is, and has not been in the best interest of our children, nor is it in societies interest.
We need to follow the example of Erie County New York.  Have incentive tax credits to help non custodial parents, usually fathers, and also reunification programs for fathers.  We need to change the Title IV d incentives so that they have incentives for fathers to stay involved and around. We need to adopt equal Shared Parenting laws for fit parents.  We need to reform the Family and Probate courts in our state and around the country to make it easier for dads to stay involved, and remove the barriers to fatherhood.  If we start to do this, I can guarantee you, the rates of teen pregnancy will drop.  We will no longer have to ask the question, "Was there even a dad?"  We do know there is always a dad, we just have to help them to stay around, for their kids sake.
Dr. Peter G. Hill
304 Columbus Avenue
Boston, MA 02116
cell 617-763-3370
By skiph56 on 07/01/2008 at 4:08:34

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