Reason Writers Around Town: Kerry Howley on the Gloucester Pregnancy Pact

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At the Los Angeles Times, Senior Editor Kerry Howley talks teen pregnancy and family values with the Manhattan Institute's Kay Hymowitz.

Read all about it here.

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  1. Gloucester story squares with much of what we know about the motivations driving young single motherhood.

    Of course, the Gloucester story is beginning not to square with itself. This is not a criticism of Howley, but the herd mentality of today’s media. And especially their rush to make a trend out of an anecdote.

  2. On of the pregnant girls claims that the pact wasn’t to get pregnant but rather that the girls made a pact to help each other out.

    She thinks the large number of pregnancies is a statistical anomaly. Oh, and because the school didn’t give out contraceptives as presents.

    Wow.

  3. Teenage mothers and their children starving in the streets along with easily available birth control would drive teen pregnancies down to 0%.

    Either that or before/after shots of breasts and birth organs.

    Won’t somebody think of the children!

  4. From the article:

    So how do we explain the Gloucester pregnancy pact, the agreement by a group of 15- and 16-year-olds at a Massachusetts high school to get pregnant and raise their children together?

    The existence of such a pact has yet to be substantiated.

    From tarran:

    She thinks the large number of pregnancies is a statistical anomaly. Oh, and because the school didn’t give out contraceptives as presents.

    I saw her on NECN this morning. She came off as your typical teenager. Quick to blame everyone else.

    But I do agree with her on making contraception available in school. Not because of her reasoning (OMG, buying condoms at CVS is soooooo embarrassing!), but because any effort to prod generally irresponsible children to be somewhat responsible is a good effort. I just don’t buy into the “condoms encourage teen sex!” meme.

  5. While unfortunate, Kerry, a lot of people are going to read what you wrote to mean that we need more funding for public school programs to encourrage girls to persue science (because everybody loves science) and more affirmative action programs.

  6. I just want to know what the guys at the school are thinking. They probably went from “damn, the girls are putting out unusually much this year” to “OH SHIT NOES I MIGHT BE A DAD”.

  7. Here’s another Reason hack about town. I guess the twenty times that story was featured here got to be too much so it was sent to the lefty addition.

  8. Is anyone arguing that these girls aren’t hella-stupid?

  9. I’m still trying to figure out what Kay Hymowitz was going for. She spent 4&1/2 paragraphs before she got to what, I assume from the title, was her central point. Then wrote…

    The teens no longer felt the need to be married to their kids’ fathers. Experts may have been right that teens are too young to raise children in our complex economy, but boy, were they wrong when they decided to ignore fathers!

    It might have been nice if she’d bothered to argue about why.

  10. It might have been nice if she’d bothered to argue about why

    Uh, hello? Because two parent families are the way we’ve been doing procreation for the last ten thousand years and its the only right way to do it?

  11. Because two parent families are the way we’ve been doing procreation for the last ten thousand years and its the only right way to do it?

    That’s right, Hugh! Millenia of tradition is the very best way to figure out the “right” course of action. That’s why I enjoy worshiping the sun, ignoring hygiene, attacking strangers, and raping women!

  12. “It’s the much more difficult task of persuading young women to hope for something bigger and better.”

    Ummm . . . poor wording.

  13. besides that overlooks all the other “non-traditional” familial arrangements you find looking back at, uh, tradition.

    particularly the habits of the ruling class. for some reason a lot of those guys would have multiple wives and mistresses. hmmm.

    truly a mystery.

  14. If one parent is bad, and two parents are good, wouldn’t 3 or 4 or 5 parent be even better?

    Why stand in the way of group marriage? I4TC!

  15. Age – in and of itself is not the issue. For most of human history, 16 year olds’ getting pregnant was not unusual or even frowned upon. The issue is the ability of this mother to care for the baby. Traditionally this has meant having a mate who was somehow able to put food on the table while the mother made sure the baby was not eaten by saber toothed tigers or burned by the fire that warmed the cave. Today, teenagers are discouraged from venturing out on their own into the jungle and forming families of their own. I am skeptical about how natural or wise this is. Our bodies tell us that we are still upper Paleolithic hunter gatherers. Perhaps it is time that society recognizes this fact.

  16. I wonder if there will be charges for the sperm donors involved with the girls that were 15 at the time of fertilization. The age of consent in Ma. is 16 isn’t it? I see a rash of new registrations for sex offender status in the future.

  17. I agree that it would be interesting to see some opinions on why fathers are important.

    Following up on the ruling elite having lots of misstressess and illegitimate offspring…it does explain why many of the ruling elite are now kinda psychopathetic pedophilish, torture supporters. Fatherless kids are bastards literally, and the correlation between being a bastard and being a first class piece of trash is too high to ignore…and I do feel sorry for the bastards, it usually isn’t their fault.

  18. “I wonder if there will be charges for the sperm donors involved with the girls that were 15 at the time of fertilization. The age of consent in Ma. is 16 isn’t it? I see a rash of new registrations for sex offender status in the future.”

    What happens if a homeless man is a sex offender? He is required to register his place of residence is he not? How will he do that?

  19. sugar free….the problem is that teh parents who have half their genes embedded in the kids are more likely to give a crap about nurturing the kinds…the stepfather and stepmom are a little more likely to slap the kid around too much and restrict resources in a way that inhibits intellectual and physical development.

  20. I still wonder why we make pariahs out of women, no matter what their age, who choose to have children and raise them alone, and yet raise to near-heroine status those who were married to the child(ren)’s father yet found themselves in a single-parent situation due to death or abandonment…

  21. “sugar free….the problem is that teh parents who have half their genes embedded in the kids are more likely to give a crap about nurturing the kinds…the stepfather and stepmom are a little more likely to slap the kid around too much and restrict resources in a way that inhibits intellectual and physical development.”

    The paradigm you are describing is of a parent who divorced and married another spouse. The new spouse may favor his own genetic offspring over the offspring of the now ex-spouse. What I think Sugarfree is describing (correct me if I am wrong Sugarfree) is polyammory. Ideally, in such an environment the child would have loving support from all parents involved and their would be mutual cooperation.

  22. “I still wonder why we make pariahs out of women, no matter what their age, who choose to have children and raise them alone, and yet raise to near-heroine status those who were married to the child(ren)’s father yet found themselves in a single-parent situation due to death or abandonment…”

    The first case is a choice the second case is (usually) not.

  23. Longer ironic:

    Because carrying on after disaster strikes your family is kind of the exact opposite making a monumentally stupid and (generally) selfish decision?

  24. Ironic: agreed. Yet the fact remains that there are many children being raised in single-parent situations, but society makes a distinction that one is somehow a “better” single-parent situation than another.

    If this pact was, as I suspect, one where the girls intended to be each others support network (rather than a pact to deliberately get pregnant), three cheers for them to do what others might not do (because they are unwed teen mothers) in the face of the needs of their children.

  25. “Because carrying on after disaster strikes your family is kind of the exact opposite making a monumentally stupid and (generally) selfish decision?”

    Very true indeed. I should have added that.

  26. “Ironic: agreed. Yet the fact remains that there are many children being raised in single-parent situations, but society makes a distinction that one is somehow a “better” single-parent situation than another.”

    Better is not the word I would use. Less of a stigma for the mother is how I would describe it.

    “If this pact was, as I suspect, one where the girls intended to be each others support network (rather than a pact to deliberately get pregnant), three cheers for them to do what others might not do (because they are unwed teen mothers) in the face of the needs of their children.”

    OK, this might work for the first few months but a bunch of women who are all 8 months pregnant? Umm – who is going to go to the store for pickes and ice cream? Who is going to drive who to the hospital?

  27. “(rather than a pact to deliberately get pregnant)”

    OK I just reread this. Sorry strike the second part of what I said.

  28. That assumes that they could all time their pregnancies in perfect syncope. They would all have to live together for a few months to get their menstrual cycles in sync, then have sex at roughly the same time of the month, assuming their ovulation schedule is also perfectly synched, and that none of their pregnancies had complications, or a history of preterm birth did not exist in any of their families, or that a C-section was not indicated for any of the pregnancies.

    I guess you are trying to be cheeky. But I think that while the plan is a bit naive in general (and we are talking about teens who generally want to be grown up but lack insight into what being fully grown up means), it is not altogether misguided in its intent to provide support where none might otherwise be found.

    I think it falls rather in line with libertarian do-it-yourself idealism. Don’t depend on others or the goverment; let private community provide the charity care when needed.

  29. “OK I just reread this. Sorry strike the second part of what I said”

    so stricken

  30. “What I think Sugarfree is describing (correct me if I am wrong Sugarfree) is polyammory. Ideally, in such an environment the child would have loving support from all parents involved and their would be mutual cooperation.”

    I can see some instances where polyammory could have some big benefits….say two-dads and two-moms…a couple of full time incomes and maybe one part time income…all sharing the costs of one mortgage…more ability to shift work schedules to keep one or two parents home at all times. fun sex parties etc

    drawbacks involve less shared history and or less ability to relocate quickly …All I know is have more experience seeing how two parents can manage a family, more knowledge about common pitfalls to avoid in two-parent families…and therefore I’m more likely to stick with two parent family right now. It is easy to see how my children will probably decide to go that route as well.

    If you think in evolutionary terms, it seems the two parent families kicked the asses of the four parent polyammorous families so I guess I stick with the winning formula. Amongst “successful” friends it is almost gauranteed that they were raised by two parents.

  31. Ironic,

    Yes, group marriage / polyamory et al. If more parents are better, then do it for the children.

    Way to invalidate millions of adoptive parents there, Gabe. Children are better off with the people who want them and don’t want to cause them harm, be those people biological parents, adoptive parent (gay or straight), or even a polyamorus / group marriage. Just because any idiot can stick his dick in another idiot so that she can squat out a kid 9 months later has no bearing on their aptitude as parents, singly or together.

    That being said, if they actually set out to be a gang of teenage single mothers, they are probably morons and shouldn’t be having children in the first place. The public assistance side of the equation is more troubling to me than the pact aspect. And the “school didn’t give them condoms, wah!” argument is stupid too. Pregnancy is shockingly easy in our society to avoid.

    Anyone dumb enough not to keep from getting pregnant by accident is probably too dumb to raise a functional member of society.

  32. We need more funding for public school programs to encourrage girls to persue science (because everybody loves science) and more affirmative action programs.

    Please initiate a federal program at once!

  33. This is more proof that private schools are destroying the American youth. I bet their teen pregnancy rates are nowhere near as high as in public schools.

    This is the perfect time to beging a school nationalization campaign.

  34. This is the perfect time to beging banging a school nationalization campaign.

    Fixed 😉

  35. “Way to invalidate millions of adoptive parents there, Gabe.”

    SugarFree, I said that parents with genetic incentives are MORE LIKELY to care for their kids well. This doesn’t mean that adults pre-screened by a third party for their desire and ability to care for children will be bad parents…jeez, way to jump to conclusions. As a prospective adoptive parent and current regular parent, you come off as someone who would be quick to beat their children for drinking “devil juice flavored capree suns”

  36. you come off as someone who would be quick to beat their children

    That’s fair. You come off as a retard dumbass Christian fuckhead. But then we are just talking perceptions here, right?

  37. I did all them bitches.

  38. “I agree that it would be interesting to see some opinions on why fathers are important.”

    Perceived strength/security.

    I was engaged for several months to a woman with the most delightfully bright and charming 10-year-old daughter. During that period, when she would be confronted by a bully at school, she would back up her anti-bully position with, “My dad says…” even if it was something said by her mother rather than me.

    And having coached young women and girls from all across the globe, I have come to realize that kids have a much more accurate and innate grasp of gender than adults do.

    I miss you every waking moment Matilda. And also in dreams.

  39. “As a prospective adoptive parent and current regular parent, you come off as someone who would be quick to beat their children for drinking “devil juice flavored capree suns”

    As someone who makes a distinction between “adoptive” and “regular” parents, you come off as Gene Hackman in The Royal Tennenbaums.

  40. I agree that it would be interesting to see some opinions on why fathers are important.

    Personally, I find it kind of offensive to put the burden of proof on fathers. Lets hear someone explain why fathers aren’t important, first.

  41. I can’t get into the head of a 16-year old who brightens up when she hears she is about to spend 9 months with a tiny human in her uterus, but a passing familiarity with the data should indicate the teen pregnancy is something one aspires to when few other opportunities abound. As you rightly suggest, the answer to this is not yet another health class demonstration involving Trojans and bananas. It’s the much more difficult task of persuading young women to hope for something bigger and better.

    Who is this that is going to try to “persuate” young women to hope for something “bigger and better”? Who are you to tell them that “something” is bigger and better than having a kid?

    As someone else said, teen pregnancy used to be (in the not-so-distant past) normal. If you are going to persuade young women (as a group) that something that used to be normal should be set aside for something allegedly bigger and better, you are trying to swim upstream. The problem as I see it, is that these young women no longer really have an option that used to be normal, getting married in their teens. Since they don’t have this option, they act out in a way that seems bizarre and self-destructive to you.

  42. I have a theory – maybe the town of Gloucester is economically depressed because the people who live there are stupid.

  43. “Who is this that is going to try to “persuate” young women to hope for something “bigger and better”?”

    No worry. I gots it covered.

  44. As usual, the comments are way off into the deep end of a bunch of bullshit over-analysis.

    WTF does polyamory, Christianity, or adoptive parents have to do with it?

    Anyone who isn’t grown up enough to buck up and buy condoms at the drugstore isn’t grown up enough to be screwing around. Kids need to realize they’re just dumb shits for a while, instead of expecting to have it all just because they’re humans just like adults are, or that they’re special because they’re more enlightened than the adults are since they’re not old and stuck in nineties.

    Very few high school girls of today can be called a “woman”. They don’t have the mental maturity to be called a woman yet.

    My upper Paleolithic hunter/gatherer nature also tells me to club and beat the shit out of anyone who pisses me off. Should society start recognizing that too?

    They’re just a bunch of ignorant, trashy girls who think it’s cool to get knocked up and drag a baby around like celebrities do and weren’t taught any better. They’re parents have to take responsibility for it now. There isn’t a political or government stance to be discussed about it. It’s a personal deficiency that society is not responsible for, but the individual and/or its guardian is.

  45. SugarFree | June 24, 2008, 3:28pm | #

    That’s fair. You come off as a retard dumbass Christian fuckhead. But then we are just talking perceptions here, right?

    ya… it was a joke where I insinuated you were a wacky christian or a anti-sugar zealot(some of those aprents are annoying)…I don’t see how that would make me come off as a “Christian fuckhead”…maybe a “retard dumbass”…but I am offended by the “christian fuckhead” part…I actually even think of myself as a “fuckhead” sometimes…but I left the christians a long time ago.

  46. living in the boston area, I feel obliged to say that I think gloucester is a pretty crappy town…anyone that has to send their kids to those schools is either not very smart or not doing very well in life.

  47. ‘As someone who makes a distinction between “adoptive” and “regular” parents, you come off as Gene Hackman in The Royal Tennenbaums.’

    that is actually fair, given what I said, I do however understand that a adoptive parent can love their child just as much or more than a “biological parent”…at some point though it seems the political correctness factor of banning certain descriptions of parents here is going to destroy the ability to communicate what the hell we are talking about in the context of discussion on poly-amorous families etc.

  48. Jim Nast, what exactly does that mean? That this kid was smart enough to know that dumbass kids who bully them are more afraid of the larger, more physically powerful sex than the other sex? Big whoop. Of course bullies will be more afraid of something the more physically imposing sex would say.

  49. “Jim Nast, what exactly does that mean? That this kid was smart enough to know that dumbass kids who bully them are more afraid of the larger, more physically powerful sex than the other sex? Big whoop. Of course bullies will be more afraid of something the more physically imposing sex would say.”

    Well, someone asked for examples of the benefits of fathers and I provided one.

    That it offends you is most revealing.

  50. I think my ability to kinda not hear my wife ask me do some things that don’t seem important without letting it be a big deal has helped teach my son valuable life lessons for getting through school and a career successfully.

  51. Good one, Gabe, but I suggest you duck if zoltan is in the area.

  52. I’m hardly offended. I just don’t see how that’s some kind of revelation. Insightful, but then again, any half-observant child will know what scares the bully best. That’s a poor benefit of a father if a kid has to summon up the image of one to protect themselves from the bully. But then again, I was bullied and was a bully in my youth, so I was never one for authority figures who weren’t in my eyeline.

  53. It was only one example.

    Here’s three more:

    Fathers, on average, make more money, which raises the standard of living.

    Fathers, on average, are better in math and science, so they are better at assisting with homework.

    Fathers, through the respect they show their daughters, can, by example teach their daughters that when some young man says, “If you love me, then you’ll suck my dick” the correct response is, “No, if you loved me, you would respect me as my father does.”

  54. I was criticizing your idea that it’s a benefit to have a father to summon in the arena of bullies. No need to get your panties in a twist.

  55. “I was criticizing your idea that it’s a benefit to have a father to summon in the arena of bullies.”

    But, it is.

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