Thursday, June 26, 2008

Thoughts on the Gloucester 17

Long before I moved to Boston, I knew of a place called Gloucester, Massachusetts. Harry Chapin made reference to the city in a song called "Dogtown" which appeared on his very first album called Heads and Tales.

On a Saturday morning this past February, I took a train up to Gloucester to look at an apartment near the downtown area. Although it was the dead of winter, I found the city to be quite beautiful. Ultimately though I decided against taking the apartment as the commute into Boston would be too costly.

Now Gloucester is forever associated with 17 underage girls who have become pregnant. It appears that reports they made a pact to get pregnant and that a homeless man might have been responsible for siring one of the children appear to be erroneous. How many homeless men are there in a city of 30,000 people and how hard would they be to find? Needless to say, I think there was a lack of due dilligence on the part of Time Magazine which broke the story. But I also think there was a lack of due dilligence amongst readers who took the sensational aspects of this story at face value as proof positive that America is going straight to hell.

I'm not suggesting there isn't something disconcerting about 17 teenaged girls being pregnant at one high school. But now that they are pregnant I don't think we would suddenly want to encourage them to have abortions. I think the story will ultimately be told over the next five to twenty years. Every five years we should come back and see where the Gloucester 17 and their children are. I suspect that we will find some of the girls turn out to be model mothers. I also suspect some of the other girls will have more difficulty. Most will turn out somewhere in between. A lot of it will have to do with how much support they receive from their families, from one another and the people of Gloucester. Only time will tell.

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