The principles of reporting are simple, so simple 5th graders can follow them. Who, what, where, when, and why are the 5 basic principles reports are supposed to outline in order to inform us. This information is supposed to be fair, balanced, and opinions or judgments are to be either withheld or expressly identified as such. The TIME article does none of this. It is informative, it provides the 5 principles, but its conclusions and assumptions are illogical and based in typical public ignorance and dogma of the entire teen culture and reality. In high school my civics teacher made us all read TIME, Newsweek, and US News and World Report each week to learn about current affairs, debating, and opinion forming. It seems the quality of reporting, writing, and presentation of their headline articles has slipped. Yes I know this is the web and not the full magazine, but still branding is branding and they put this out there for the whole world to digest.
Why, when I have been so busy, too busy to do anything, am I now commenting on this? One, which I hinted to early on, is because of the bad reporting and miss management of the story, but also the seemingly blind rage the NYTimes readers dove into when expressing themselves about the story. Therefore, here is what we should be talking about and not talking about with what is going on in Gloucester Mass:
Discuss: Teen pregnancy, teen behaviors, bad parenting, eroding social values, socioeconomic impact, social responsibilities of all parties, and how to resolve
NOT discuss: Sex education in schools, abortion and adoption, family planning, government run clinics or programs, welfare mothers, and governmental responsibilities
First off, due to length, the Not discuss issues. This is a social problem, not a governmental problem. Parents who think schools are supposed to teach their children about sex and parenting should have their kids taken away in my opinion. Schools can teach health, but sex ed is up to a family and/or church to discuss because it is personal, embarrassing, awkward, and just part of being a parent. These girls SIGNED A PACT to get pregnant, no sex ed, access to condoms, pills, patches, etc. could prevent it, they made up their minds and peer pressure was in full effect. The girls who belong to broken homes or poor homes will be part of the welfare system, so crying about it now will not change anything, it is just being part of the problem. Parents have ultimate responsibility over their kids; legally, ethically, and morally. Parents decide where to send their kids to school, what school to enroll them into, what church they go to, what activities they attend after school, and to a larger extent then people admit who their friends are. Parents provide a roof, food, and discipline to their kids, so if the kids are acting out they have enough tools to get them into line if they mess up. We can not, should not, and better not try to legislate this issue, it is social and social issues have absolutely no ability to be controlled by government policy in the United States (how many negatives can I get into 1 sentence?). Come to China and you can legislate social issues, 1 child, religion, entertainment, etc. We have to ask ourselves, which path are we going to follow, freedom or George Orwell’s 1984?
Teen pregnancy, yes it’s true it has been around since the dawn of time. That is why women mature faster then men, which is why they can have children younger and seem more attractive to men, its biological, we can’t fix that. This being said, we have the ability to change our behaviors by understanding them, teaching about them, and controlling them through will power and dedication, also through social mechanisms like taboo, shame, and condemnation. Kids are smarter then their parents give them credit. I remember being a teen and amazed at how naive and stupid grown-ups were. Now that I am older I realize I was very naive but also right on some levels. Anyone who does not believe their kid is not thinking about sex by age 13 is in full blown denial. Parents need to talk about sex before their kids reach teen years and begin to rebel and not listen.
Teens feel pressure, isolation, and alienation so they will cling to anything that eases these burdens. For some its sex, drugs, music, sports, video games, any thing really, for others, well its really bad stuff like this. These girls are all missing something really important in their lives. They are smart enough not to fill the void with drugs or bad behavior, but dumb enough not to think through the full consequences of their actions. What about 5, 10, 15, 20 years form now? At 36, when their peers should really be coming into their own in careers, family, and life they will be attending graduations, marriages, births, and divorces of their children! Unless you have the money the Spear family does there is little to no hope of going to college, even community college. Raising a kid before you know anything about life really highlights the fact that a teacher can never pass on more then 75% of their knowledge, leaving their kids in really bad shape for values, morals, life experiences, wisdom, antidotes, and lessons learned from observing others making mistakes.
We live in a reality of dual income parenting, or do we? Since when was $30k a year not enough for a family of 3 just starting out? Since when was $80k a year not enough for a family of 4 to live comfortably? I will tell you when, when we started selling our futures for material objects and Madison Ave ideals of life style and happiness. Parenting takes one thing above all others, time. Children need to be raised, raised with values, morels, and judgments that only parents can pass along. If parents are not doing this who is? Daycare workers making minimum wage and without college educations, optimistic outlooks, or solid social understandings, I don’t think so. After school programs that just fill time between 3 PM and 6PM, nope their main concern is funding and attendance so they can stay in business. No, the issues are lack of quality time. Parenting is a 24/7 position, on you can not quite from, resign, or get fired from. You created life you have to take care of, until it can take care of itself, fully. Providing more money at home means nothing if you are never there. Chasing money for family gain leads to kids wasting this money on shoes, drugs, alcahol, and getting each other pregnant because, no one is ever home or cares about me.
Our society has shifted priorities to obtaining materialism and marketing ideals and not retaining and maintaining the very ideals that made the nation what it is today. Families need 2 parents, full time. Families teach, instruct, discipline, nurture, protect, and maintain itself at a level worthy of success and continuing on to the next generation. Single parent families can not provide all of this. Even with help from their parents, single parents are passing along a legacy of dependency to their children through their actions, their kids see what is going on and learn from it. This is why the concept of a vicious cycle exists in psychology and sociology. Yes, teens are rebellious and going to do what they want, but parents still have control of them until they move out… unless they give up that control. Parents need to be parents, not friends, buddies, or the like, but people who shape and mold the kids into a grown up despite all the kids’ resistance and struggle against them. When we stop doing this we get, well, girls making pacts to get pregnant so they can have a ‘special love’ in their lives.
So the damage is done, now what? These girls will soon be changing diapers, wiping runny noses, and working swing shifts at dead end jobs or passing along the kids to the parents so they can finish school or training that will land them a better job. Unfortunately better jobs require more time, time that is not flexible or ‘kid friendly’. Factory jobs that have on-site day care are rare, and even then they are hard to get because so many people want to work there. So the kids end up on food stamps, working dead end jobs, can not save enough to send them selves or their kids to college, or retirement they begin to draw more and more from society as a whole. Having a large low income population leads to more crime, proved. This situation also leads to less opportunity for a community because business is attracted to higher educated and better trained workforces. As the labor pool becomes less attractive to industry, it leaves which causes more and more of the same. This impact leads to dependency on government aid, WIC, food stamps, welfare, housing assistance, et al. We have seen this for generations yet why is this social impact of the story not reported? In our global world competition for lower rung jobs intensifies, opportunities will go where the market is, that is life. These girls’ actions, while not overtly selfish, show a shallowness and lack of consideration not only to them selves and their families, but to their community, state, and country. Acting responsibly is a lesson parents have to teach, and teach by example, how can these girls pass this along to their kids?
Only the Reuters article really went after the second half of the story, them men involved. Now what good will it do to imprison a high school student for getting a more then willing girl pregnant? If did not she would find someone else who would, even a 24 year old homeless man. Now if the men were over 18 then yes, they were responsible and need to pay, but for those not, well, just force them into work and garnish their wages OR help them with city or county jobs if they get married and for as long as they are married? As I stated earlier, the damage is done, but there is responsibility to go around. The girl’s parents will have to turn their lives upside down to take care of 2 generations instead of just 1, which is their responsibility for being bad parents. The fathers of these kids need to do one of two things, step up and pay child support for 18 to 21 years, or get married if the situation is really really really really right. The women will be living with their responsibility for the rest of their lives, it takes two, so the other needs to share in it as well. It’s preferable to have the fathers in their kid’s life, to show them they love them, care for them, and most importantly RAISE THEM. Its time to bite the bullet and become a grown up, to everyone involved. The school, well encouraging and enabling this behavior is just wrong. Why don’t they have convenience stores on campus serving beer, cigarettes, drugs, and porn to the kids, its enabling a behavior the kids should not be practicing and telling them its socially acceptable just as much as having day care and strollers in the halls of the high school. The school needs to SUPLEMENT the parent’s sex ed lessons by lecturing about the negative of ALL teen behaviors. Kids need to hear about teen pregnancy horror stories just as much as seeing the burned our wreck of a ‘teen drinking cars’ that tours campuses nationally every year. It’s parent’s responsibility first, and schools to reinforce and supplement, constantly. Our government is there to protect and serve our needs, not wants. People who are poor because of legitimate reasons need this help, people who are injured, handicapped, deficient in capacity, etc need assistance to have a quality life and deserve it as well. This is the limit of our government, not to shore up the selfish and conceded desires of a group of girls who planned, chose to do this, actually went through with it, and relish in the attention it is giving them. Our government should protect their children’s interest if their families can not, but it should not do so to the degree that it becomes profitable and enabling for their selfish lifestyles and others who aspire to follow in their foot steps.
What to do? What to do? What to do? We can’t throw the baby out with the bath water, pun intended. We can only fix this in the right and correct way, socially. As I have stated again and again, this is a social problem, it requires a social solution. We have become way too complacent and accepting of blatant and wanton eroding social behaviors for far too long. Am I calling for more church? No, that is not for everyone, it’s personal if people want to choose this route. Our society is the most diverse on the planet, yet without some common threads it can not sustain much longer. We, Americans, need to investigate, evaluate, uphold, teach, and hold accountable our core values as a nation. Parenting needs to become the number 1 priority as many of our social ills fall squarely at the feet of the family or lack of family present in our youth’s lives. We need to change our motivating factors, measurements of success, ideals, and values. By doing this all else will begin to fall into place. Hollywood is only a warped reflection of our society, an entertainment way of expressing the extremes of our society. If our values shift and change, then Hollywood will follow, it has to because it is made of people in our society. We need to focus more on the family and less on money. We need to work harder on raising our kids and teaching them well then on that next promotion or bonus. The writing on the wall is there for us to see, has been for over 20 years now, and now it’s in bright neon. School shootings and violence, teen pregnancy, drug culture, lack or respect to authority, jaded indifference to our neighbors, callowness, it’s all right in our face. From numerous people incapable of stopping a may stomp his toddler to death to road rage and disillusioned young adults, its all there in all its ugly glory. How much more do we have to see before we wake up and change?
This story reminds me of Nero, fiddling away while Rome burned. We are the current Rome, the height of civilization of our era yet unable to prevent our own downfall. Doomed like an ignorant deaf, dumb, and blind person to stumble over the cliff, not by a cruel act of nature but because we are listen to iPods, playing PSP, and planning our next weekend while we walk towards the cliff. The signs are there, are we so arrogant to believe we can not fall as the Romans did? Are we so better then them that we are immune to their fate? We can change course, but we have to so now, and it will be hard, long and hard, but the alternative and outcome is much less desirable. We need our families back. We need fathers teaching their sons to play ball, their daughter how to fish, and being there to pat them on the back with then succeed and on the butt when they get out of line. We need mothers to comfort their sons and daughters, pass along wisdom and nag them incessantly about nutrition, health, and life. We need this more then McMancions, Europeans family vacations, new cars for graduation, TVs computers, stereo systems, and game systems in the kids bedrooms. We need family dinners at a table with discussion, pizza night, game night, and monthly outing for team building and lesson learning. Without family there is no society. Without society there is no nation.
Its easy to say I am making a mountain out of a mole hill and how 17 pregnant girls in Massachusetts are just some kids run away with bad ideas and misguided friendship, but I say this acceptance and complacency to the issue itself is the root cause of the situation in the first place. No one is accountable anymore, it’s always someone else’s fault, even if these girls did plan these pregnancies for many months before any of them even had sex. No the problem is we allow this to happen with only token opposition and outrage. We are complacent in our own demise just as these girls are in their own futures. I do not blame them, fully, I do wish them luck and success, but I know the odds are overwhelmingly against them and their kids. I just wish our nation had people who would stand up and change these declining values we have. It’s been nearly 50 years in the making and we continue to let it slide, further and further. Eroding family is the cause of our social ills, not a symptom, no the 17 girls are the symptom, just as are all the other signs on the wall, how much brighter do we need them to get before we see them?