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When 18 Teenagers Entered A High School Pregnancy Pact, It Shook Their Quiet Community To The Core

When 18 Teenagers Entered A High School Pregnancy Pact, It Shook Their Quiet Community To The Core

Teen being pregnant has all the time been a controversial matter, surrounded by morally subjective conversations involving intercourse schooling, contraception, and lingering questions of duty. Nevertheless, in June of 2008, when 18 Massachusetts teenagers purposefully obtained pregnant in a supposed “pact,” the sleepy fishing city of Gloucester, MA, completely exploded in an ethical panic.

The so-called highschool being pregnant pact turned a nationwide scandal after a Time journal piece revealed that the highschool’s principal had reported no less than eight college students had made a pact to get pregnant and lift their youngsters collectively, with at the very least one scholar pursuing a 24-year-old homeless man to father her baby.

Within the tight-knit Irish-Catholic group, the blame-game started. Intercourse schooling was suggestively missing, but so have been potential futures for the oft-bored youth. Mother and father blamed the media whereas faculty well being officers blamed the hospital for lack of assets. Spherical and around the rumors went, however nothing modified the truth that the teenager pregnancies at Gloucester High School had quadrupled because the earlier yr. Clearly, one thing was flawed within the quiet little fishing village.

The Principal Revealed There Was A Pregnancy Pact Between College students

It was a headline that grabbed the nation’s consideration in early June of 2008: A group of teenage women, none older than 16, making a pact to get pregnant collectively. The story shortly gained worldwide consideration, with information retailers sending in correspondents from locations as distant as Brazil and Japan. It all began when Gloucester High School’s Principal on the time, Dr. Joseph Sullivan advised reporters from Time journal that no less than eight of the varsity’s 18 soon-to-be pregnant college students had shaped a pact collectively. Sullivan claimed that the scholars have been principally sophomores when the pact was first shaped and that a majority have been pregnant by their junior yr.

Nevertheless, regardless of the media’s sensationalized response, the city of Gloucester, together with its mayor and faculty superintendent, wasn’t as fast to consider Sullivan’s story, particularly as a result of he admitted to being “foggy in his memory” as to how he had discovered of the pact. This did not cease the rumors from constructing, nor quell the flood of opinions and accusations that ensued within the Massachusetts fishing city of round 30,000 individuals.

School Officers Reported College students “Celebrating” Constructive Pregnancy Exams

Arguably, it was the varsity well being officers that first turned conscious of Gloucester’s abrupt improve in teen pregnancies. On the faculty of roughly 1,200 college students, it was reported that by early October of 2007, a number of women had requested being pregnant exams from the varsity well being clinic. By March, “several” had turn out to be 10 college students, which was already greater than triple the variety of college students that had develop into pregnant within the earlier faculty yr. In interviews with Time and different information retailers, each the varsity principal and superintendent reported that women reacted to adverse check outcomes with unhappiness, and constructive checks have been met with excessive fives and speak of celebration for the infants to be.


Nurse Daly, Gloucester’s faculty nurse, conceded that the variety of women requesting checks, and coming again weekly for brand spanking new outcomes, was a surprising new phenomenon. She admitted that women can be giddy over constructive outcomes, and cry over negatives. By Might of 2008, Daly had administered some 150 being pregnant exams and confirmed 17 pregnancies (which might later tick as much as 18 earlier than the yr’s finish.)

One Woman Was Reportedly Pursuing A Homeless Man To Father Her Youngster

In his outrageous account to Time’s reporters, Gloucester High Principal, Dr. Joseph Sullivan additionally claimed that one of many teen being pregnant pact’s members had been so determined as to pursue a 24-year-old homeless man to father her youngster. Nevertheless, like the remainder of Sullivan’s story, there’s a considerable amount of hypothesis relating to this declare. Not solely was this specific woman by no means recognized, however it was additionally not even made clear by Farmer whether or not she had truly succeeded in being impregnated by this man, or if she was merely pursuing him with out success. Information sources range, with some claiming at the least one father was a 24-year previous homeless man, and others saying the woman tried to bear his youngster so as to “fit in,” with the opposite being pregnant pact women.

Gloucester High School’s Teen Pregnancies Quadrupled Inside One Yr

A part of what dumbfounded not solely Gloucester, however the world, was the unbelievable spike in instances of stripling being pregnant that had appeared to occur in a single day, or at the very least inside only one faculty yr. Within the 2006-2007 faculty yr, Gloucester High School’s Nurse Kim Daly had confirmed 4 “teen pregnancies”; she had confirmed that many by October of the 2007-2008 faculty yr, with no teen mom over the age of 16, and lots of of whom have been solely 15. By the top of that faculty yr, there can be a complete of 18 pregnancies at Gloucester High School. Statistics on the time had proven a gentle decline in teen start charges between 1991 and 2005. Nevertheless, by 2006, for women 15 to 17, that had risen by three%. On the time of the 2008 case it was too quickly to say for positive if Gloucester was by some means a part of a rising development, or just its personal anomaly.

The School Wasn’t Allowed To Distribute Contraceptives With out Dad or mum Consent

Not surprisingly, the controversy surrounding the rumor of a teen being pregnant pact sparked a seething debate over intercourse schooling and sexual assets at Gloucester High School – to not point out the nation basically. School well being officers reported frustration with the native hospital relating to the shortage of assets out there to them when it got here to the topic of teenage intercourse. In Might of 2008, each the medical director and faculty nurse resigned in protest. The native hospital managed the varsity’s well being funds, and apparently the hospital additionally refused to permit the varsity to distribute contraceptive units to college students with out parental consent. On prime of this, the state of Massachusetts had slashed its finances for reproductive well being outreach, decreasing eight full-time staff to just one, and slicing again significantly on intercourse schooling in faculties.


It’s Unlawful To Have Intercourse With A 15-Yr-Previous In Massachusetts

One other situation raised by the presence of the so-called “pact,” was the truth that underneath Massachusetts regulation, it’s unlawful to have intercourse with anybody aged 15 and underneath, even whether it is consensual. This put nearly any of the woman’s companions (lots of whom have been over 15 and out of highschool) liable to being charged with statutory rape. This might be as much as the mother and father’ discretion, and whether or not they felt they needed to press expenses or not. These boyfriends and fathers may be ordered to pay youngster help to the teenage moms, even when they too have been solely 16 and clearly had no means to do such a factor. It was only one extra drawback for the group to wrestle with however did not appear to be too problematic for the households concerned.

Many Argued That Pregnancy Was Seen As A Means Out For Women With Few Prospects

The extra rational response to the speedy improve in teenage moms seemed to Gloucester’s socio-economic state, fairly than the world of the highschool women. Gloucester had as soon as been a booming fishing city, however these days have been up to now and the financial system was sagging, and the rising generations had few prospects in the best way of careers. A reporter from Time, Kathleen Kingsbury, said that for the women who had joined in on the alleged pact, “Being a mother became something they can do, gave them an identity… They didn’t really have an alternative. Nobody offered them a better life.”

This was a well-liked argument amid all of the scandal; that these women from less-than-envious backgrounds with considerably bleak futures noticed turning into a mom as an escape from dealing with the hardships of carving out a profession in a hopeless city. A number of the younger moms did admit to hating faculty anyway and dreading what would come after commencement. Doing it collectively, in a pact, made the overseas prospect rather less scary, and gave them a collective hope and activity to cling to.

Mother and father Blamed The Media And Films Like ‘Juno’ For Glamorizing Pregnancy

In response to the scandal, many mother and father and pundits blamed the media. On the time, Jamie Lynn Spears, Britney Spears’s 17-year previous little sister, had simply given start to her child, and Bristol Palin was one other superstar teen mom. Moreover, the movie Juno, which depicted a pregnant highschool scholar, acquired copious consideration and was even nominated for a number of Academy Awards. These involved mother and father argued that such situations “glamorized” teenage being pregnant and that it was irresponsible to have fun such conduct by means of mainstream media and movies. Many mother and father claimed that tales like Juno’s have been what satisfied their daughters that getting pregnant was a great or “fun” concept.

Many Alleged Pact Members Deny Its Existence

In 2008 and within the years which have adopted, the alleged “members” who’ve spoken publicly have all denied the presence of a premeditated pact. If something, the pact was almost definitely extra of a post-pregnancy choice to remain in class and stick collectively by way of the newfound problem of being pregnant at such younger ages. One of many younger moms, Kyla Brown, reacted to the information of the pact with shock and anger. In a Marie Claire article, she states: “I was freakin’ devastated, are you kidding me?” in response to the rumors surrounding her being pregnant. Brown was solely 16 when she turned pregnant and insists that she was on no account making an attempt to get pregnant, saying: “I did not want this… It was one of those teenage things, like, it won’t happen to me.”


Brown is not the one mom from the Gloucester 18 with this type of response. Christen Callahan, a fellow teen mom from the notorious group, advised At present that: “You lose everything. You lose being able to go out… You lose–you lose everything.” One other one of many women, Brianne Mackey advised Inside Version, over 9 years after her being pregnant: “It was no, ‘Hey, let’s do this together… As far as I know, none of the girls who got pregnant were even friends.” The truth is, a lot of the tales concerning the teenage moms being overjoyed and planning their pregnancies got here from faculty officers and information reporters who had spoken solely with stated officers. The women themselves have one other story: teenagers being teenagers, and never considering that something might probably occur to them.

Many Disagreed Over Intercourse Schooling Reforms Even After The Explosion In Teen Pregnancies

The dialog relating to Gloucester High School’s intercourse schooling program turned heated because the scandalous story gained worldwide protection. Because it was a closely conservative, Irish-Catholic city, even hospital officers voiced the priority of group backlash within the occasion of distributing contraceptives to highschool college students. As a consequence of price range cuts, intercourse schooling within the faculty system stopped at ninth grade. Residents have been upset that Gloucester appeared to point out no incentive to vary this after the spike in teen pregnancies. Because of the heavy Catholic affect locally, abstinence had been the taught technique for years, and lots of critics acknowledged this lack of contraceptive assets as a key trigger for the pregnancies.

Nevertheless, faculty officers – primarily the principal, Dr. Sullivan – vehemently claimed that the shortage of contraception “played no part” within the variety of teen pregnancies which had greater than quadrupled in a yr. He blamed this reality on the “pact,” and said that the scholars who have been decided to get pregnant would achieve this, whether or not they had entry to contraception or not, insinuating that there was thus no want for such measures within the faculty.

Gloucester High School Truly Based A Day Care For College students’ Youngsters

Even earlier than the being pregnant pact allegations surfaced, Gloucester High School maintained an onsite daycare for college kids with youngsters. Actually, the varsity even boasted that the earlier teenage moms with infants in this system all completed highschool and went to school. Earlier than the alleged pact, although, the daycare solely accommodated seven infants at a time. Solely 4 college students took benefit of the childcare facility within the faculty yr previous to the surge of 18 scholar pregnancies, however there was a waitlist for mothers within the alleged pact. Many individuals insisted that the daycare inspired college students to get pregnant, however faculty superintendent Christopher Farmer famous: “Some people have said that because the facility is there, it encourages pregnancy… I think that is hard to believe. Clearly, if we can keep [the young mothers] in school, it gives them a better chance in the future.”

The Pact Has Impressed Tv Episodes As Nicely As Three Movies

Unsurprisingly, the scandalous story went on to encourage a number of movie and tv tales. Regulation and Order SVU featured an episode impressed by the information, in addition to the forensic thriller, Bones. A Lifetime film referred to as The Pregnancy Pact, starring Thora Birch because the journalist attending to the underside of the controversy, was additionally made. It was argued that this sensationalized tackle teenage moms led to the setting which enabled exhibits like MTV’s 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mother to thrive.


A documentary titled The Gloucester 18 was additionally made to resolve the story that took the blue-collar fishing city by storm in 2008. Even worldwide audiences acquired in on the development: A French movie by sisters Delphine and Muriel Coulin refashioned the story of the Gloucester 18 into their very own unusual, art-house fantasy model of what occurred within the small Massachusetts city, re-imagined in a seaside village in France, naming the movie 17 Women.

The Principal Resigned After Many Individuals Questioned His Claims

Principal Joseph Sullivan couldn’t precisely recall who informed him concerning the alleged being pregnant pact. His phrases sparked the whole media frenzy, however not one of the officers or teen mothers in Gloucester, MA corroborated Sullivan’s claims. Some individuals even insisted that the principal fabricated the entire story. Amid the backlash, Sullivan resigned from his place on the faculty. Neither the Gloucester mayor nor the varsity superintendent appeared saddened by the loss.

In truth, Mayor Carolyn Kirk stated that Sullivan was “foggy in memory” as a result of no being pregnant pact ever existed. Nevertheless, the previous principal claimed that the town officers “publicly slandered [his] reputation, [his] integrity and [his] intelligence.” Sullivan took a job as a principal at a Catholic elementary faculty after his resignation.

Many Of The Reviews Glossed Over The Teen Mothers’ Actual Tales

Most of the teen moms within the alleged being pregnant pact by no means revealed their identities; they could have feared backlash or overexposure. Solely a handful of the younger ladies participated within the 2011 documentary that explored the state of affairs. John Michael Williams directed The Gloucester 18: The Realities of Teen Pregnancy, and he painted an image that sensation-seeking reporters refused to see. For instance, Alyssa Silva, mom of 1 teen mother, talked about that the women solely banded collectively to create a help system. She famous:

“The only pact I heard about was the girls that were already pregnant… They were going to stick together and help each other.” Williams additionally highlighted the story of teenage mother Hallie Allison. She was the product of teenage mother and father, and her residence life was difficult. Allison’s guardian shot himself whereas the woman was current. Allison additionally heard her mother’s abusive boyfriend shoot himself when she was within the subsequent room. Moreover, the teenager mother needed to cope with her mom’s tried suicide. So she might have needed to create a unique household dynamic for herself, maybe explaining why she “didn’t do anything to prevent [her pregnancy].”

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