Teen Pregnancy Pact: Celeb Culture Cited

A celebrity culture that seems to make being pregnant glamorous may have contributed in part to the thought process that led several students in a Massachusetts high school to make a pact to try to get pregnant together, according to one psychologist.

Seventeen Gloucester High students are now pregnant, more than four times as many as at this time last year, and almost half admitted to school officials that they agreed to the pact, according to Time magazine.

School Superintendent Christopher Farmer told CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller the teens feel, "Motherhood gives them status."

"It sort of gives you the impression of being an adult, an independent. It may give you an opportunity for unconditional love and attention from the baby and also that you give to the baby," Dr. Elisabeth Guthrie, a pediatric psychiatrist, observed to Miller.

On The Early Show Friday, Dr. Lisa Boesky, a psychologist and author of "When to Worry: How to Tell If Your Teen Needs Help-And What to Do About It," told co-anchor Julie Chen, "We're facing a new area in teen pregnancy than we haven't before. ... What we've always known (is) teens who are surprised and shocked (at getting pregnant). Now, instead of unplanned teen pregnancies, what we're seeing in this town (Gloucester) is actually planned teen pregnancies. We used to be up against, kind of, 'It won't happen to me.' Now, these girls are saying, 'I hope it happens to me.'

"And I think a part of it is this celebrity culture. If you look at all the celebrity magazines, celebrity TV shows, you can't turn a page without seeing more and more celebrities getting pregnant."

The recent movies "Juno," which won an Oscar, and "Knocked Up," both deal with teen pregnancy and "appear to take away the stigma," correspondent Miller says.

And, "Teenage pop idols getting pregnant before matrimony appears to have given their celebrity a boost," Miller points out.

Jamie Lynn Spears, 17, sister of Britney Spears, just gave birth to a girl.

But, notes Boesky, "There's no talk of how -- about raising the kids. The celebrities have nannies, they have assistants. There's no reality, there's no consequences. It looks like fun. And it fills a void for some of these teens."

Amanda Ireland, 18 and the mother of three-year-old Haley, just graduated from Gloucester High. She was living in another state when she got pregnant.

She says she's tried to warn her peers about the tough road ahead.

"Don't, don't try to get pregnant," she says. "People say, 'I know what it's like because I have siblings.' But you really don't. No one knows until they actually go through it. And it's a lot of work."

Ireland told Chen Friday that her pregnancy was unintentional.

Of the students who are pregnant in Gloucester High now, Ireland speculated to Chen, "Maybe they felt lonely or something."

She agreed that Hollywood attaching glamour to teenage pregnancy may also have had something to do with the situation.

But Boesky warned, "All the research shows that (teenage pregnancy) is not good. They have a higher rate of dropping out of high school, they have a higher rate of low birth babies, they have a higher rate of premature babies. Kids of teen parents -- girls are more likely to be teen parents themselves, and boys twice as likely, if they're born to teen mothers, to end up in jail. So, it's not good for society, it's not good for these teens, and it's not good for the parents and grandparents who often have to raise these kids."

"Parents," Boesky continued, "are sending a very clear message -- 'Don't drink alcohol and don't do drugs,' but I don't think we're sending a clear message of, 'Don't get pregnant in your teenage years.' There's nothing wrong with saying, 'While you're in school, do not get pregnant.' Parents shouldn't be letting their girls date boys who are older than them, they shouldn't be letting their boys date girls who are younger than them, and parents have to stay involved."

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