Knocked up: Not a comedy

Pregnancy is fashionable for girls at Gloucester High in Massachusetts. Seventeen girls are expecting out of 1,200 students. It’s no accident, reports Time.

. . . nearly half the expecting students, none older than 16, confessed to making a pact to get pregnant and raise their babies together.

One of the fathers is a 24-year-old homeless man, says the principal.

Gloucester is a mostly white fishing town that’s lost a lot of jobs. Families are breaking down, says Time.

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.

The high school’s clinic gives pregnancy tests — 150 by May — but doesn’t prescribe contraceptives without parental consent. The nearest women’s clinic is 20 miles away.

But this isn’t about girls who lack access to birth control. These girls — half-educated and totally clueless — decided to have babies.

About Joanne


  1. SuperSub says:

    I saw on the news report that many of the other students were congratulating or high-fiving the new mothers, and many other girls were depressed that they failed to get pregnant.
    We’ve had similar situations at our school (just not as organized), and for the past couple weeks girls have been discussing pre-planned prom-babies and who might be or might not be pregnant.

    What it comes down to, and it was mentioned in the recent thread on single motherhood, is that society not only fails to stigmatize teenage pregnancy but actually encourages and supports it.
    There needs to be some “penalty” for raising a child when one is not financially ready, and with government handouts this will not happen.

  2. Oy, as an adopted Gloucester native (my parents have lived there for more than ten years now), I’m not even sure I know what to say. I’m sure some of these girls are now thrilled to be “famous.”

  3. Society and its love for celebrity has created this situation. It does not surprise me that poor, undereducated girls, who see no future, would decide a baby is the answer. They see the celebrities having babies (baby bump) and think they can be like them.

  4. SuperSub says:

    I wonder if there’s much of a difference between Paris Hilton’s accessory dogs and these girls’ babies.

    Someone needs to sit these girls down and tell them exactly how selfish and stupid they are, and then treat them as such.

  5. You people are just being judgmental! Why, I have a friend who had a friend whose cousin’s mom was so oppressed in the fifties that she ended up in a mental hospital! Is that what you want to go back to? These girls are just forming alternative families, and alternative is always a good thing. Just as Margo/Mom.

  6. these girls needs a reality check, It is sad that they are getting pregnant to fulfill a need for a personal identifier in becoming a mother. doing so is only thinking of themselves and not the children who will now be (presumably) without fathers and mothers who will have difficulty finding jobs in a community that is already professionally lacking. this is exactly the reason why the Baby borrowers show needs to air to help de-romanticize motherhood and pregnancy in teens. sure, mtoherhood is a wonderful thing, but be as prepared as possible! Sorry, it just gets me worked up.

  7. Ragnarok says:

    “These girls are just forming alternative families, and alternative is always a good thing.”

    Budding experimental biologists, too!

  8. I have always felt there are two important motivations that girls are vulnerable to. First, a new mother is the center of attention, at least for a while, in a way that comes from few other events. Attention by others is always motivating. And second, our society grants a great deal of power to a mother in making decisions about her child. Power is always motivating.

    Neither of these motivations require the presence or participation of the father of the baby. Indeed the power motivation is probably enhanced by having the father out of the picture. Both of these motivations fail to last beyond the early infancy of the child, of course, but that probably is not a part of the girl’s thinking.

    I have long suspected that most teen age single mothers did want to get pregnant, but pretend otherwise because they feel that’s what is expected of them.

  9. BadaBing says:

    This is a country that hates children. Otherwise, this sort of behavior would be excoriated in the media and by our elites. Moreover, take into account abortion, the increasing sexual nature of network programing in the late afternoon/early evening (e.g. Two and a Half Men, the increasing sexualization of kids, court decisions that snatch children away from adoptive parents to hand them over to formerly absent bioscum, falling birthrates among white females, the prevalence of shacking up rather than entering into a commitment for the sake of offspring, the acceptance and celebration of homosexual marriage, the destigmatization of teen pregnancy and concomitant lack of concern for the unfortunate bastards born to teens, and you have a country that hates children.

  10. Catch Thirty-Three says:

    What do you mean those girls have no access to birth control? They have freewill, the word “no”, and the ability to keep their knees pinned together, right?

  11. What do you mean those girls have no access to birth control? They have freewill, the word “no”, and the ability to keep their knees pinned together, right?

    Tsk, tsk. Common sense doesn’t work on those who don’t have it.

  12. SuperSub:

    There needs to be some “penalty” for raising a child when one is not financially ready, and with government handouts this will not happen.

    These teen parents are deadbeats in a way that divorced fathers can only achieve in extremis.  I suggest resident boot camp with intensive classes for both parents, lasting until either:
    1.  The parent functions at a full 12th-grade level in reading, writing and arithmetic (test results audited independently, falsification to be prosecuted as felony fraud), or
    2.  The parent accepts sterilization as a condition of probation.

  13. SuperSub says:

    And here I was just aiming for not giving them or their parents any financial support… effectively forcing the parents (well, grandparents) to either raise it themselves or kick the two out on the street.
    Sterilization is good too.

  14. If we jail divorced fathers for being unable to pay inflated child support awards, we should do the same to deadbeat teens.  And it could be done under exactly the same law:  failure to support is a crime.

    It would fit with the “premarital sex is a sin” attitude of the more religious types, and I bet it would cut both the birthrate and the abortion rate.

  15. Margo/Mom says:

    Small problem, it appears that the story lacks veracity. See here:

  16. Richard Aubrey says:

    Gloucester, an ex-resident said, is a dying town. It has been a fishing town for four hundred years, now trying to make a living on tourism (Captains Courageous and The Perfect Storm).
    The future for some of these girls may look pretty bleak. While being a teen mom with no hubby in sight might look like a bad deal to middle class folks, it is possible that it might look, from the outside, like a potential step up for the girls.
    There has been some attention paid to the support for the teen moms at school, and the state pays for a good deal else, not much of which is forthcoming to the poor but childless.
    As one social worker said, you look around and make the realistic judgment that this kid’s best bet is to get pregnant.

  17. Then the thing to do is to make the consequences of the wrong decision sufficiently onerous that most go the other way.

    If things are bad in Gloucester, a population which discards education in favor of teen parenthood on the dole is only going to make things MUCH worse.  If the city is even going to host call centers, the people applying for the jobs have to be able to read and follow scripts.  High-tech jobs require skills much better than that.

    Fishing required a lot of time repairing boats and mending nets, all activities done in the anticipation of future reward.  If the population of Gloucester has lost all of its virtues, bringing a bunch of children into that environment is the last thing the state should encourage.

  18. Margo/Mom says:

    “Then the thing to do is to make the consequences of the wrong decision sufficiently onerous that most go the other way.”

    Or, one could take on the problems that make the “right decision” inaccessible.

  19. Rewarding the wrong decision is still going to leave some taking the “easy”, and destructive, way out.

  20. SuperSub says:

    “Or, one could take on the problems that make the “right decision” inaccessible.”

    The only things that come to mind are chastity belts or forced sterilization.

  21. Margo/Mom says:

    The only things that come to mind are chastity belts or forced sterilization.

    I would think about relevant education, available job/career paths and access to higher education.

  22. Richard Aubrey says:

    Relevant education is defined as whatever isn’t being taught currently, with the additional benefit of not generating any papers the teachers have to take home to correct.
    Jobs and career paths are available to those who are interested. The US unemployment rate would be celebrated, were the president a dem. It was not so long ago that unemployment under 6% was thought to be a precursor to inflation.
    Unfortunately, MA has a high resistance to new business, like Michigan, in the form of taxes and bureaucratic regulation. Most people who favor relevant education and increased access to higher ed would be reluctant to see lower taxes and streamlined government operations about business start ups. Just not on the same side of the coin.
    And there are jobs available without college. Talking about access to higher ed is a way of delaying solving the real issues, which include having nobody in the family who’s worked for a living.
    Some of the highest business and jobs growth is happening in states with low incidence of higher ed grads. See Texas and Kentucky, for example.

  23. Margo/Mom says:

    Richard, of course you’re right. And you will be the first to provide forced sterilization to your children, then?

  24. SuperSub says:

    I think the point is if you raise your kids right then you shouldn’t have to rely upon chastity belts or sterilization.

  25. Richard Aubrey says:

    Got a clue?

  26. Richard Aubrey says:

    I have two children and three nieces.
    At one point, four of the five were working out of state (Michigan). One came back when he was promoted to HQ, although that might not last, things being as they are.
    The out of state folks are in Texas, North Carolina, and California.
    The ones in Texas and North Carolina began their careers in California.
    Michigan has a pretty good system of higher ed. Its graduates are one of our exports, although we don’t get paid a lot for them.
    Roughly the same holds for my kids’ college buddies.
    So, some places you have to leave (Gloucester) and, as it happens, you can.
    You just have to know about it and have the guts.

  27. Here is a divide in American opinion that I think deserves some thought. A lot of people think expecting people to move for a job, or a better life, is just asking too much. Others take it for granted that people have to move for a better job or a better life. I suspect there are a lot more people in the latter camp than the former, but I think the former camp is a lot more socially and politically active. Thus, unless I am mistaken, any government program (and maybe non-government program) assumes that residence is not going to be part of the considerations. People may be required to take job training and to look for jobs, but it will not be suggested that they move.

    I’m firmly in the latter camp. My wife and I have had to move for jobs. It’s hard, but that’s part of life. If Gloucester is economically depressed, and it sounds like it is, then of course there’s not much future there. If futures are bleak, and if you have no intention of looking elsewhere for a better life, then maybe having a baby makes sense to a high school girl.

    I expect in many circles it is taboo to suggest people should have to move to better themselves. But I think anyone willing to break that taboo will be doing a favor to a lot of people.