New Stanek WND column, "What the media is ignoring about the teen pregnancy pact"

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Time magazine revealed last week at least eight students at Gloucester High School in MA have entered into a "pact," according to Principal Joseph Sullivan, to get pregnant and raise their babies together....

Sullivan has now gone mum, certainly after school and city lawyers told him to shut up....

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It's no wonder Gloucester Mayor Carolyn Kirk disallowed Sullivan from speaking at her June 23 press conference, telling the world he had gone "foggy in his memory," and there was "no evidence" of a pregnancy pact....

Kirk tried to shift blame for the pregnancies to state and federal government funding reductions "resulting in cuts to programs and services... including support for health education."

Not so fast. Last spring, MA Gov. Deval Patrick rejected $700,000 in free money for abstinence teaching from the federal government. Meanwhile, Patrick approved a budget increase of $800,000 for comprehensive sex ed funding, bringing the total to
$3.8 million annually....

Had this been a school system that taught abstinence, you'd best believe sex ed would be central to the story.

Had Patrick rejected comprehensive sex ed funding and increased abstinence funding, the New York Times would be pointing it out, not me....

Continue reading my column today, "What the media is ignoring about the pregnancy pact," on WorldNetDaily.com.

[Photo of Kirk courtesy of Agencies]


Comments:

I said this in the "Juno" post but it is equally applicable here. I think it is important to know whether in fact there was a "pregnancy pact" in Gloucester or an actual effort by these girls to become pregnant or whether this is just a statistical bump up in the unplanned pregnancy rate. If in fact these were INTENTIONAL it says a lot about the family life of these girls that they so lack love and hope for their future that they wanted to find those things in a baby, even a baby from a homeless man, and really not much about which sex education is better. If they were unplanned then we can get into the usual arguments about abstinence v. comprehensive sex education.

Posted by: JohnS at June 25, 2008 10:42 AM


I have to take offense to this:

"... statistical bump up in the unplanned pregnancy rate ..."

That would be akin saying that 1914-1918 and 1939-1945 we observed statistical bumps in the world's death rate.

Posted by: Charles at June 25, 2008 11:30 AM


Ironically, an Associated Press story dated today details why Iowa, Arizona and Colorado are joining 20 other states in opting out of the federal abstinence-only program, because studies have proven it totally ineffective.

Despite Jill's desperate effort to spin this story into an argument for abstinence-only sex education, the facts provide no support. Once they decided to get pregnant, sex education of any kind, or the lack thereof, would have no effect.

.

Posted by: Bystander at June 25, 2008 11:37 AM


If anyone is interested Dr. Phil is doing a show on teens who want to be pregnant tomorrow.

Posted by: Jess at June 25, 2008 11:39 AM


You both assume this was intentional, and I think there is some evidence to the contrary.

As to sex education I am for whatever works in lowering the unplanned teenage pregnancy rate. As you say, if it's planned, no sex ed in the world is going to stop it.

Posted by: JohnS at June 25, 2008 11:40 AM


"Offense" might be a little strong. Nevertheless, you are right that one cannot be naive about "statistical bumps". I remember when baseball players were consistently approaching 60 home runs, and people were naive about the "statistical bump" for some time before they seriously started looking into the cause.

When the number is as "small" as 17 vs. 8 or 9, it's possible that it could be a statistical anomaly, I suppose.

If there actually was a 'pact', then I imagine this is a case best left to social psychologists. Why would a bunch of teenagers feel compelled to do this?

If there wasn't a pact, and the statistical anomaly is simply too large to consider coincidental, then we can definitely look to cause. Whatever methods of pregnancy prevention (abstinence, birth control, non-penetrative playing with each other, whatever) have a severe strike against them.

One thing's for sure if there was no pact... whatever method is in place isn't making things BETTER.

Posted by: Alex at June 25, 2008 11:45 AM


Non-penetrative playing? Come on, think back to when you were a teen, how long does playing like that stay "non-penatrative"?

Posted by: JohnS at June 25, 2008 11:51 AM


Meanwhile, Mayor Kirk added at her press conference:

The City of Gloucester and the Gloucester School Committee recognize that parents and guardians are the primary educators of their children. They are ultimately responsible for the health and well-being of their children.

Jill said: Oh, really?

As Jill implies, doesn't this statement go against everything the social psychologists and school administrators have said for the last 30 years! They are finally waking up and changing their tune!

Until we bring the moral (gasp!) component back to sex education, these types of problems are not going to disappear no matter how much money we throw at them.

Until parents realize that moral relativism in their own lives is not benefitting their children' emotional development one iota, the children of this generation are going to be lost when it comes to making good decisions for themselves.

The Catholic Church which is mocked by so many has always taught that parents are the primary educators of their children. That parents are ultimately responsible for the health and well-being of their children. It's too bad that it's taken the school system of Gloucester such a long time to catch on.

Let's bring God and lessons in morality back into the schools and see what positive social changes come of it.

Reading the whole article is a must! Excellent article, Jill.


Posted by: Janet at June 25, 2008 12:12 PM


Jess, 11:39: If anyone is interested Dr. Phil is doing a show on teens who want to be pregnant tomorrow.

Thanks for the heads up, Jess!


Posted by: Janet at June 25, 2008 12:15 PM


Oh, I doubt it does. I actually have no personal experience.

My health teacher (who I learned later was Catholic) actually once brought in a few guest speakers: girls who participated in outercourse, sex with birth control, etc. All who became pregnant in high school by those methods.

So... he taught the methods he was 'supposed' to, and then knocked 'em each out of the park. I remember one worksheet of each method's "prevention rate". He had abstinence bolded, with a big "100%" next to it. I thought this was a pretty effective method of teaching the material.

Posted by: Alex at June 25, 2008 12:16 PM


Non-penetrative playing? Come on, think back to when you were a teen, how long does playing like that stay "non-penatrative"?
Posted by: JohnS at June 25, 2008 11:51 AM

My high school gf and I remained non-penatrative throughout our relationship (and we did everything but...)


Posted by: Hal at June 25, 2008 12:20 PM


Janet:

That is like using a bucket to bail out a Missouri flood. We need to bring "God and morality" back into society at all levels, top to bottom, from culture to entertainment to government to families or trying to teach MTV-raised kids about abstinence is like teaching 3rd graders quantum physics.

Posted by: JohnS at June 25, 2008 12:20 PM



Despite Jill's desperate effort to spin this story into an argument for abstinence-only sex education, the facts provide no support. Once they decided to get pregnant, sex education of any kind, or the lack thereof, would have no effect.

How can this not be an argument for abstinence education? Remember, abstinence education today is more than telling kids to "just say no".

Perhaps these kids wouldn't have decided to get pregnant in the first place and at such a young age if they had been taught that abstinence is best until they are in a better position to raise a family, ideally with a father and a mother.

Posted by: Janet at June 25, 2008 12:25 PM


Well you had better control than me then Hal, and I think most other teenagers too. I know there is supposedly this big boom in oral sex as an alternative but I just can't imagine it stays that way. But I am willing to be proven wrong.

Posted by: JohnS at June 25, 2008 12:25 PM


JohnS 12:20: Janet: That is like using a bucket to bail out a Missouri flood. We need to bring "God and morality" back into society at all levels, top to bottom, from culture to entertainment to government to families or trying to teach MTV-raised kids about abstinence is like teaching 3rd graders quantum physics.

You won't find any arguments from me. I'm afraid many in society will need to take "baby steps" in this direction or they will be afraid/unwilling to even try.

Posted by: Janet at June 25, 2008 12:31 PM


Alex: 12:16: My health teacher (who I learned later was Catholic) actually once brought in a few guest speakers: girls who participated in outercourse, sex with birth control, etc. All who became pregnant in high school by those methods.

So... he taught the methods he was 'supposed' to, and then knocked 'em each out of the park. I remember one worksheet of each method's "prevention rate". He had abstinence bolded, with a big "100%" next to it. I thought this was a pretty effective method of teaching the material.

I'm sorry a Catholic was teaching those methods. He shouldn't have been if he was Catholic. I take it you are being sarcastic on the rest of your post? It's hard to tell, I don't know your writing style.

Posted by: Janet at June 25, 2008 12:36 PM


Funny...you wouldn't hear a peep about any Statutory Rape investigation if these girls had all gotten abortions...Where would the uproar come from, then? Not from the police. Not from "sex educators". Not from the school. Just from the SOL parents who were not consulted in advance.

Posted by: PajamaMama at June 25, 2008 1:00 PM


As Jill implies, doesn't this statement go against everything the social psychologists and school administrators have said for the last 30 years! They are finally waking up and changing their tune!

Janet, just because people believe that children should be taught certain things does not mean that people don't believe the parents are ultimately responsible for the well-being of their children. I think that parents are responsible for teaching their children most things, even academic things to an extent, but I also am certainly glad that schools teach reading and math so that even children whose parents are not being "good" parents will learn the basics about these things.

Posted by: Alexandra at June 25, 2008 1:31 PM


Awesome point PJmama!

Posted by: Sandy at June 25, 2008 2:13 PM


Hal, my HS boyfriend and I were the same way. If you do it right, non-babymaking sex can be very fun.

Posted by: Wichita Linewoman at June 25, 2008 4:42 PM


Meanwhile, Mayor Kirk added at her press conference:

"The City of Gloucester and the Gloucester School Committee recognize that parents and guardians are the primary educators of their children. They are ultimately responsible for the health and well-being of their children."

Jill said: "Oh, really?"

Janet said: "As Jill implies, doesn't this statement go against everything the social psychologists and school administrators have said for the last 30 years! They are finally waking up and changing their tune!"

Alexandra said 1;31: Janet, just because people believe that children should be taught certain things does not mean that people don't believe the parents are ultimately responsible for the well-being of their children. I think that parents are responsible for teaching their children most things, even academic things to an extent, but I also am certainly glad that schools teach reading and math so that even children whose parents are not being "good" parents will learn the basics about these things.

My point is that 25 years ago, the powers that be did not believe that parents could properly teach sex-ed to their own children, therefore the government and school systems took over that task. All of a sudden, the Mayor of Gloucester seems to be backing away from that long-held philosophy of public schools, placing the responsibility on the parents. The irony of it all!

Posted by: Janet at June 25, 2008 10:24 PM


Janet, there was no sex education at Gloucester. The responsibility was on the parents, and 17 girls ended up pregnant. Parents on most surveys have stood out as the second or third place where teens get sexual information. First place is always peers. It's not surprising that what happened there, if there was a pact, was decided among peers who probably had approximately the same level of understanding of sex and pregnancy.

Posted by: Edyt at June 25, 2008 10:59 PM


Edyt: 10:59: Janet, there was no sex education at Gloucester. The responsibility was on the parents, and 17 girls ended up pregnant. Parents on most surveys have stood out as the second or third place where teens get sexual information. First place is always peers. It's not surprising that what happened there, if there was a pact, was decided among peers who probably had approximately the same level of understanding of sex and pregnancy.

According to the TIME article on Jill's earlier post:

"Sex-ed classes END freshman year at Gloucester"

Your attitude that the schools could do a better job than the parents have done is the exact attitude that the schools have had for 30 years and they are now realizing it is not working. I believe you said recently that you learned much of what you knew about sex from your parents at home. Maybe it's time to give the reins back to the parents and educate them on teaching sex ed to their children. Obviously peers are not the place to go for CORRECT information. Parents need to reinforce that idea with their kids.


Posted by: Janet at June 26, 2008 12:17 AM


My point is that 25 years ago, the powers that be did not believe that parents could properly teach sex-ed to their own children, therefore the government and school systems took over that task. All of a sudden, the Mayor of Gloucester seems to be backing away from that long-held philosophy of public schools, placing the responsibility on the parents.

Really? That's news to me. I never knew that sex ed was put in place because the government decided that parents COULD NOT properly teach the subject to their own children. I was always under the impression that it was put in place because if the parents DON'T teach it, there are serious individual and public health risks. And some parents neglect their children horribly, and it is in the best interest of the country if those children are still given the facts about STD's, contraception, and so forth.

Which is why sex ed deals with the health and physical facts of sex rather than the morals. You're supposed to teach kids your own morals. Which is precisely what these parents did not do -- the kids' lack of knowledge wasn't related to contraception or STD's or other physical health fact information, but rather to the place of sex and motherhood in one's life.

Posted by: Alexandra at June 26, 2008 7:11 AM


Alexandra:

I don't think there's much difference between "could not" and "did not". That said, I don't think you can effectively separate the teaching of the facts of sex from the moral aspect. Look what happened in this case.

Maybe our differing perspective has to do with age difference....I'm probably a generation older than you, unless you are 40 - I doubt you are!

Posted by: Janet at June 26, 2008 11:03 AM


I don't think there's much difference between "could not" and "did not".

There's a huge difference! One is saying that parents are incapable of teaching their children, so the schools must step in. The other says that some parents will be negligent in teaching their children, and that in this case that negligence is a public health issue, so the school must step in. The former discusses ALL parents, the latter discusses a small percentage.

Posted by: Alexandra at June 26, 2008 1:23 PM


Alexandra, the school steps in either way. The outcome is the same. Why does this difference matter - what is your point exactly?

Posted by: Janet at June 26, 2008 3:07 PM


Alexandra, the school steps in either way. The outcome is the same. Why does this difference matter - what is your point exactly?

My point is that it's completely absurd for you to say that the school decided, decades ago, that parents could not teach sex ed to their children, and now are blaming the parents for failing to teach sex ed to their children. That's not what happened in either case. The school system said, decades ago, that the stakes are too high to risk some children not knowing accurate information about the basics of sex and contraception -- and the school is now saying that the girls' desire to get pregnant when they are young and dependent is reflective of a lack of moral/emotional education from the parents, not a lack of facts-driven sex ed from the parents.

Posted by: Alexandra at June 26, 2008 6:59 PM


Janet,

I read another article in which it mentioned there were no sex ed classes at Gloucester. However, you may be right. Of course, all these articles are saying different things, so it's very frustrating.

Your attitude that the schools could do a better job than the parents have done is the exact attitude that the schools have had for 30 years and they are now realizing it is not working.

Teen birth rates were DROPPING and then abstinence-only education got the big push during the Clinton era. In the past few years we've seen teen birth rates start to rise again, which supports the conclusion that comprehensive sex education is beneficial to preventing teen pregnancy.

I believe you said recently that you learned much of what you knew about sex from your parents at home.

No, I learned it on my own. I educate myself. I always have. I knew how to protect myself because I knew more about sexually transmitted diseases than people 10 years my senior.

Maybe it's time to give the reins back to the parents and educate them on teaching sex ed to their children. Obviously peers are not the place to go for CORRECT information. Parents need to reinforce that idea with their kids.

My parents didn't teach me anything I needed to know. The first time they mentioned birth control was about 6 months after I'd broken up with a boyfriend I'd been sexually active with. You're right, peers are not the place to go for correct information. But what are you going to do? Legislate that parents educate their children? Great idea. Hasn't worked yet.

Posted by: Edyt at June 26, 2008 7:36 PM


People seem to be forgetting that "comprehensive" includes abstinence too! The program I had back in high school talked about condoms and hormonal methods but it also talked about how to avoid being manipulated.

Posted by: DRF at June 27, 2008 7:49 AM


People seem to be forgetting that "comprehensive" includes abstinence too! The program I had back in high school talked about condoms and hormonal methods but it also talked about how to avoid being manipulated.

Posted by: DRF at June 27, 2008 7:49 AM

Avoiding being manipulated is not the only reason for abstinence, as you must know. That implies just looking out for yourself, where true abstinence is motivated by love for yourself as well as your partner. Wanting what is BEST for both of you for practical reasons and moral, ethical reasons is the best motivator for abstinence.

Posted by: Janet at June 28, 2008 12:09 PM