Thanks to M, S, and L who all sent me links to this Time article about the alleged "pregnancy boom" at Gloucester High in Massachussetts.
I want everyone to take a deep breath here. Now, let's all do some math.
There are 1200 students at this school. For the sake of argument, let's say that 50% of them are female. So that gives us 17 pregnancies for 600 students. Get out your calculators:
17/600 = 0.0028To calculate the number of pregnancies per 1000 people, we multiply that 0.0028 by 1000 and, viola, we have a pregnancy rate of 28.33 per 1000 women. Sound high?
According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, which publishes statistics on teen sex and pregnancy, 28 per 1000 is 16 prengancies lower than the lowest state prengancy rate in the nation (North Dakota, with 42 per 1000 teen women aged 15-19).
Now I'm no expert, but that doesn't much sound like a "pregnancy outbreak" to me, which is what CNN called it in a news story this morning. And the alleged "pact" the girls made? The school's principal, Joseph Sullivan, claimed on CNN that "nearly half" of the pregnancies were planned.
What's actually fueling this story, I imagine, is revealed in the shots of the Gloucester Daily Times that the CNN story shows: health education funding has been cut at Gloucester High, and the school's board will vote this fall on whether to provide contraception in its school clinic.
I'm all for health education (as long as it's not abstinence-based) and school-provided contraception, but shame on CNN for being total navel-gazers on this story and not, say, checking around for real pregnancy statistics. This is not, in fact, an outbreak. And the "pact"? Here's a quote from the original Gloucester Daily Times story:
To get to the bottom of the problem, Sullivan investigated and came up with a startling revelation: According to his conversations with upperclassmen, some younger students may be becoming pregnant on purpose.
Kim Daly, nurse practitioner for the high school, was unable to confirm specifics but did say that the majority of students reporting pregnancies this school year were in the younger grades.
Let's get this straight: nobody, not the principal or the nurse practitioner (who, I assume, actually did those pregnancy tests), has spoken to a single girl who has participated in this "pregnancy pact." The only information that even suggests a pact are the principal's conversations with upperclassmen--who, last time I checked, were not "in the younger grades."
Way to go, CNN. This is some of the clumsiest journalism I've ever seen. I don't believe this "pact" bullshit for a second.