For a few feverish days in the middle of the summer, the media descended on Gloucester, Massachusetts, to gawk at a mess of pregnant teenagers who had allegedly formed some sort of fertile coven. The teens denied the existence of the "pregnancy pact" on national TV, which gave the story legs for another week or so, but certainly before August began, those gestating teens of Gloucester had receded from the national imagination like so many other Joe Plumbers and Ashley Alexandra Duprees. Well Boston Magazine's Rachel Baker spent several months with the Gloucester girls, and she has written a nuanced follow-up to the national fracas over the original pregnancy pact story. As with most of these scandals, the real story is much less histrionic and salacious than originally reported. It's actually a very old tale, one of young women having children to replace the families they never had.Baker's story focuses on two teens, new mom Alivia, 17, and her non-pregnant friend Kaila, also 17. Alivia has never met her father. Her mother floats in and out of her life. She moved in with an aunt for a while, and that aunt abruptly died from a heroin overdose. Alivia subsequently moved in with another aunt, but when she became pregnant by a Brazilian fisherman, she was happy. "It was the chance to have a family of her own, which is something she always wanted," Baker writes. Alivia's motivations further bolster the theory I wrote about yesterday, the new "Middle Class Morality," described by the New Yorker's Margaret Talbot. The theory is that many middle class Americans put off sex, not because they think it is morally wrong, but because they have too much to lose to make themselves vulnerable to pregnancy and STDs. The girls in Baker's story don't have anything to lose at all: they're not much into school, and it's difficult for them to see outside the confines of their hometown. The inclusion of non-pregnant Kaila in Baker's story is an interesting one. Kaila is the outspoken advocate of Alivia and a few other pregnant friends, who told reporters first spilling into Gloucester that teens are getting pregnant because the parents are absent. "Half the parents around here have no clue what's going on with their kids," Kaila said, and she was one of the few interviewees who had anything close to a stable family life. Kaila's mom, Sally, not only is very involved with her daughter's life, but also opens up her house to many of Kaila's pregnant friends. Kaila says that her mom is "obviously doing something right, I'm 17. And no babies!" It might seem to some like a low bar, but studies show that delaying pregnancy even a few years, to age 20, is statistically much better for both mother and child. Though Kaila seems to have her head on straight, there's one area where she needs a good talking to: she is obsessed with Tyra Banks. Kaila promised her exclusive story to the Tyra show, because she "feels a bond with the diva supermodel host. She knows they can both be goofy and tough and sexy and real." Oh honey, noooooo!! Growing Up Gloucester [Boston Magazine] Earlier: Pregnancy Pacts Better Than Suicide Ones, Still Not That Good Gloucester Teens Deny Existence Of Pregnancy Pact As Abstinence Pledges Falter, A New Middle-Class Morality Emerges Teen Moms Displeased At Double Standard Glorifying Bristol Palin, Jamie Lynn Spears
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