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Behind the Pregnant Teens in Massachusetts

Nearly half of 17 girls confirmed pregnant at a Gloucester High School in Massachusetts have confessed that they made a pact to get pregnant and raise their babies together.

America now contends with the loneliest generation of teens it has ever seen. The school’s superintendent, Christopher Farmer, chalks it up to a lack of self-esteem and a desire to be loved, and he is right. When a group of girls makes a pact to become pregnant and raise babies together, they are screaming out to us adults for help. What do they need? Parental attention, affection, affirmation and most importantly, fatherly love. Without these, no girl can feel emotionally whole.

Some say the school is embracing teen mothers a little too well with a free day-care facility on-site. This year alone, 150 pregnancy tests have been administered at Gloucester High School’s student clinic. It seems Jamie-Lynn Spears and movies like Knocked-Up and Juno are paving the way for America’s young ones.

We have two problems on our hands. First, media have encouraged young kids to be more promiscuous, and second, adults have caved too — teachers, parents, and even my physician peers are promoting sex.

The health professionals involved in this dilemma are horribly misguided if they think condoms and birth-control are the answer here. Why didn’t the adult doing the pregnancy tests give a heads-up to the parents that trouble was brewing? Did he stoop to adult “peer pressure” — the, let’s help-the-girls-and-keep-their-parents-in-the-dark kind of pressure, because certainly, morons like parents can’t help the way they can.

This most definitely isn’t what the research says. The problem runs far deeper than oral contraceptives can handle. There is a much more serious issue with both our girls and boys. The pregnancies of these young girls aren’t about recreational sex, they are about the profound sense of emptiness and lack of meaning and purpose in their lives.

And another thing, it takes two to tango. Who are the fathers in this situation, and why is no one talking about them?  Morally upstanding and well adjusted males know better than to go knocking up 16 year-old girls. But guys who know how to properly treat females don’t just come out of the woodwork — they need to be taught by example. Parents routinely blame peer pressure for their sons’ behaviors, but not only is sex bad for teenage girls it is NOT normal behavior for our boys either. Maybe their friends are doing it, but that doesn’t matter — there is one pressure far more influential in a boy’s life, and that is his parents. We, as parents, need not dismiss such disrespectful behavior on the parts of our sons, as well.

Can these girls and their peers be helped? Undoubtedly. But the answers aren’t found in the same old places we’ve been looking for a decade or two: creating larger in-school daycare, increasing aggressiveness in pushing birth control, and increasing the sexual-education course load. The effective answers lie within parents — Mom and Dad. Girls need more time with their fathers (affection from fathers has been shown to be the number one way to boost a girl’s self esteem), and more face-to-face interaction with mothers.

When girls spend more time living life beside their parents — particularly good fathers — the emptiness within them slowly evaporates and the lack of purpose in their lives begins to dissipate. Sometimes the best solutions stare us right in the face.

Written By

Meg Meeker, M.D., has spent the past twenty years practicing pediatric and adolescent medicine and counseling teens and parents. Dr. Meeker is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and a fellow of the National Advisory Board of The Medical Institute.

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