Economic hardship has been blamed for a lot of things – loss of a job, unmanageable credit card debt, home foreclosure, etc. But “CBS Evening News” has found another consequence of the bad economy that garnered national attention: a bizarre high school pregnancy “pact.”
The June 19 broadcast of “Evening News” faulted the ailing economy for 17 Massachusetts high school students agreeing to get pregnant intentionally around the same time so they could raise children together.
According to Gloucester Public Schools Superintendent Christopher Farmer, the girls did it to gain status. CBS correspondent Michelle Miller took it a step further and made an economic connection.
“Status in Gloucester is hard to come by,” Miller said. “The once-thriving fishing community has seen jobs drift overseas. Economic depression has left many teens trying to fill the void.”
A mental health expert told the “Evening News” the girls were trying to meet psychological needs, and pointed to feelings of adulthood, independence and unconditional love as probable causes – but not the economy.
“It sort of gives you the impression of trying to be an adult and independent,” Dr. Elisabeth Guthrie, a pediatric psychiatrist at Columbia University Medical Center, said. “It may give you an opportunity for unconditional love and attention from the baby and also that you give to the baby.”
Gloucester is a city with a predominantly white (96.2 percent) population of a little more than 30,000 people. It is located 38 miles north of Boston. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median household annual income for Gloucester is $59,056, higher than the national median household annual income of $50,978.
According to a June 19 story posted on the Web site for WBZ, the Boston CBS affiliate, locals may be more interested in finding the answers to legal questions – including whether the men who fathered the babies will face charges of statutory rape – rather than making tenuous connections between the alleged pact and economic hardship.
"We found out one of the fathers is a 24-year-old homeless guy," the principal said, according to the Time article.