HomeTrendingWhen 18 Teenagers Entered A High School Pregnancy Pact, It Shook Their...

When 18 Teenagers Entered A High School Pregnancy Pact, It Shook Their Quiet Community To The Core

The Principal Revealed There Was A Pregnancy Pact Between Students

It was a headline that grabbed the nation’s attention in early June of 2008: A group of teenage girls, none older than 16, making a pact to get pregnant together. The story quickly gained international attention, with news outlets sending in correspondents from places as distant as Brazil and Japan. It all started when Gloucester High School’s Principal at the time, Dr. Joseph Sullivan told reporters from Time magazine that at least eight of the school’s 18 soon-to-be pregnant students had formed a pact together. Sullivan claimed that the students were mostly sophomores when the pact was first formed and that a majority were pregnant by their junior year. However, despite the media’s sensationalized reaction, the town of Gloucester, including its mayor and school superintendent, wasn’t as quick to believe Sullivan’s story, especially because he admitted to being “foggy in his memory” as to how he had learned of the pact. This didn’t stop the rumors from building, nor quell the flood of opinions and accusations that ensued in the Massachusetts fishing town of around 30,000 people.

School Officials Reported Students “Celebrating” Positive Pregnancy Tests

One Girl Was Reportedly Pursuing A Homeless Man To Father Her Child

In his outrageous account to Time’s reporters, Gloucester High Principal, Dr. Joseph Sullivan also claimed that one of the teen pregnancy pact’s members had been so desperate as to pursue a 24-year-old homeless man to father her child. However, like the rest of Sullivan’s story, there is a large amount of speculation regarding this claim. Not only was this particular girl never identified, but it was also not even made clear by Farmer whether she had actually succeeded in being impregnated by this man, or if she was simply pursuing him without success. News sources vary, with some claiming at least one father was a 24-year old homeless man, and others saying the girl attempted to bear his child in order to “fit in,” with the other pregnancy pact girls.

Gloucester High School’s Teen Pregnancies Quadrupled Within One Year

The School Wasn’t Allowed To Distribute Contraceptives Without Parent Consent

Not surprisingly, the controversy surrounding the rumor of a teen pregnancy pact sparked a seething debate over sex education and sexual resources at Gloucester High School – not to mention the country in general. School health officials reported frustration with the local hospital regarding the lack of resources available to them when it came to the subject of teenage sex. In May of 2008, both the medical director and school nurse resigned in protest. The local hospital controlled the school’s health funds, and apparently the hospital also refused to allow the school to distribute contraceptive devices to students without parental consent. On top of this, the state of Massachusetts had slashed its budget for reproductive health outreach, reducing eight full-time workers to only one, and cutting back considerably on sex education in schools.

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Many Argued That Pregnancy Was Seen As A Way Out For Girls With Few Prospects

The more rational reaction to the rapid increase in teenage mothers looked to Gloucester’s socio-economic state, rather than the world of the high school girls. Gloucester had once been a booming fishing town, but those days were in the past and the economy was sagging, and the emerging generations had few prospects in the way of careers. A reporter from Time, Kathleen Kingsbury, stated that for the girls who had joined in on the alleged pact, “Being a mother became something they can do, gave them an identity… They didn’t really have an alternative. Nobody offered them a better life.” This was a popular argument amid all the scandal; that these girls from less-than-envious backgrounds with somewhat bleak futures saw becoming a mother as an escape from facing the hardships of carving out a career in a hopeless town. Some of the young mothers did admit to hating school anyway and dreading what would come after graduation. Doing it together, in a pact, made the foreign prospect a little less scary, and gave them a collective hope and task to cling to.

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Many Alleged Pact Members Deny Its Existence

In 2008 and in the years that have followed, the alleged “members” who have spoken publicly have all denied the presence of a premeditated pact. If anything, the pact was most likely more of a post-pregnancy decision to stay in school and stick together through the newfound challenge of being pregnant at such young ages. One of the young mothers, Kyla Brown, reacted to the news of the pact with surprise and anger. In a Marie Claire article, she states: “I was freakin’ devastated, are you kidding me?” in response to the rumors surrounding her pregnancy. Brown was only 16 when she became pregnant and insists that she was in no way trying to get pregnant, saying: “I did not want this… It was one of those teenage things, like, it won’t happen to me.” Brown isn’t the only mother from the Gloucester 18 with this kind of reaction. Christen Callahan, a fellow teen mother from the infamous group, told Today that: “You lose everything. You lose being able to go out… You lose–you lose everything.” Another one of the girls, Brianne Mackey told Inside Edition, over 9 years after her pregnancy: “It was no, ‘Hey, let’s do this together… As far as I know, none of the girls who got pregnant were even friends.” In fact, most of the stories about the teenage mothers being overjoyed and planning their pregnancies came from school officials and news reporters who had spoken only with said officials. The girls themselves have another story: teens being teens, and not thinking that anything could possibly happen to them.

Many Disagreed Over Sex Education Reforms Even After The Explosion In Teen Pregnancies

Gloucester High School Actually Founded A Day Care For Students’ Children

Even before the pregnancy pact allegations surfaced, Gloucester High School maintained an onsite daycare for students with children. In fact, the school even boasted that the previous teenage mothers with babies in the program all finished high school and went to college. Before the alleged pact, though, the daycare only accommodated seven infants at a time. Only four students took advantage of the childcare facility in the school year prior to the surge of 18 student pregnancies, but there was a waitlist for moms in the alleged pact. Many people insisted that the daycare encouraged students to get pregnant, but school superintendent Christopher Farmer noted: “Some people have said that because the facility is there, it encourages pregnancy… I think that is hard to believe. Clearly, if we can keep in school, it gives them a better chance in the future.”

The Pact Has Inspired Television Episodes As Well As Three Films

The Principal Resigned After Many People Questioned His Claims

Principal Joseph Sullivan could not exactly recall who told him about the alleged pregnancy pact. His words sparked the entire media frenzy, but none of the officials or teen moms in Gloucester, MA corroborated Sullivan’s claims. Some people even insisted that the principal fabricated the whole story. Amid the backlash, Sullivan resigned from his position at the school. Neither the Gloucester mayor nor the school superintendent seemed saddened by the loss. In fact, Mayor Carolyn Kirk said that Sullivan was “foggy in memory” because no pregnancy pact ever existed. However, the former principal claimed that the city officials “publicly slandered reputation, integrity and intelligence.” Sullivan took a job as a principal at a Catholic elementary school after his resignation.


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