Whether or not the teenage girls in Gloucester, Mass., entered into a pact to get pregnant, 17 pregnancies and 150 pregnancy tests in one school year is startling. The school system reports only four student pregnancies during the prior school year. Reportedly, Gloucester’s parents and elected officials raised an uproar when the medical department of the school encouraged birth control techniques in this predominantly Catholic community. While the Catholic church eschews birth control, I doubt the Pope has changed the church’s opposition stance on premarital sex.
Gloucester is an example of problems throughout this country. Parents cede their duties and responsibilities for parenting and educating to the schools without evaluating whether the schools teach the lessons the parents might deem important. Interested parents would ask questions: what type of discipline does the school system employ? what type of sex education is included in the curriculum?
For many parents, these questions never enter their mind. Some parents working so hard to make ends meet never ask because they have neither the time nor the education to ask these questions. Other parents just don’t care. Whatever the reason, the parents leave the government and schools to raise and discipline their children.
Parents abdicate their duties to these children. Do the religious leaders who decry the sex education teaching or the birth control equally hold these parents accountable for their abandonment of these children? Absolutely not. If religious leaders and their faithful adherents wish to excoriate the schools for filling gaps, these people should also hold parents responsible and use the same shame against the parents that they attempt to use against the gap fillers.
The religious community and its faithful need to offer an alternative education and support to these parents rather than paying lipservice to the problems. The tiresome religious community (both right and left) should expend their efforts on offering solutions instead of adding fuel to flames. Teen pregnancy, high school dropout rates and illiteracy are issues for everyone in society, not just parents. It’s time for everyone to sit up and pay attention.