A group of teenage girls from a Massachusetts high school have admitted to making a pact to get pregnant and raise their babies together.
Some 17 girls at Gloucester High School are now pregnant and nearly half of them say they made an agreement with other classmates to have a child.
All of the girls are under 16.
In an interview with Time magazine, principal Joseph Sullivan said there had been a recent spike in female students going to the school nurse for pregnancy tests.
"[They] seemed more upset when they weren't pregnant than when they were," he said.
On average, there are about four pregnancies a year at the school.
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The suspected "pregnancy pact" was first reported in March by a local newspaper.
Some are blaming the girls' actions on the school's emphasis on providing teen mothers with free on-site day care. But others, including the school superintendent, say the problem is much deeper than that.
"The common thread seems to be a lack of self esteem and purpose in life," said superintendent Christopher Farmer. "[There's a] lack of a sense of direction [in] young women wanting and needing affection and not finding much of it in their general life."
Mayor Carolyn Kirk says she finds the accusations hard to believe.
"I don't think there was a pact in the order of a dozen girls conspiring to get pregnant. That would really surprise me, and I have seen no evidence of it," she said.
Many teachers and local residents are concerned about the planned pregnancies.
Just last month, two officials at the school health center resigned. They felt the local hospital was wrong for allowing confidential distribution of contraceptives to young girls.
It is believed that many of the fathers involved in the pregnancies are older. One is said to be a 24-year-old homeless man.
Source: Associated Press