How did it happen?!

Listening to one of my favorite talk show hosts, Hugh Hewitt, yesterday, I was fascinated by a story he covered.

The story is about Timken High School in a little town in Canton, Ohio. The school made the headlines because of its number of pregnant students. Out of the 490 female students, sixty-five (65) are pregnant. School officials say that they don't know how it happened. Hmmm. If you're doing the math, that means about one in every seven girls and just under 15%! For perspective, a recent Washington Times report noted that the teen pregnancy rate in DC was the highest in the nation. That rate: 12%! What the heck is going on at Timken?!

I taught at an LA Unified high school for seven years. I taught at two different schools. Each school had a very different culture and set of expectations and, consequently, a difference in overall student behavior. If there's one thing I know, it is this: students will rise or sink to the level of expectation presented to them.

We cannot pretend that a sex-crazed media doesn't affect all students (and adults). In addition, there is no replacing the responsibility of the family. But, these factors play a part in every other high school.

The mystery in the Timken epidemic is the unique culture that is fostered on campus. School officials are required to act "en loco parentis" (in place of the parent) when those students are under school care. What kind of sex education program exists? How involved is Planned Parenthood? Is there any abstinence teaching?

I think the answer to the Timken High may very well be found in the following questions.
- How do school officials communicate about the pregnant students?
- What roles to they allow the pregnant teens to take? That is, has there been a pregnant student body president? Or cheerleader? Maybe Homecoming Queen?
- Could it be that in their attempts to praise a student for keeping a child have turned into a way for students to gain attention?
Whether it was an inadvertent glorification of pregnancy or a complete abdication of responsibilities, school officials must be held accountable.


At 8/24/2005 08:26:00 PM, Anonymous Kelly K said...

Hi Lores

Interesting blog. I agree that there are a number of cultural factors (tv, music, peers, school expectations, etc.), familial factors (parent's expectations, availability, lifestyle, etc.) and individual factors (goals, self-perception, understanding of consequences, etc.) that contribute to this trend we're seeing at Timken. The article also mentioned that those young men who do not take responsibility for their part may go on to get another girl pregnant. I'm interested to know what the "three-pronged program" will include. Hopefully it will address personal character and morality in relationships. I think that the next generation is hungry for something real and of substance when it comes to living a principled life, rather than just an "in the moment", "do whatever feels right" life. Although, schools might get in trouble for telling people's kids what they should and should not do in their "private lives". Not sure what can or should be done, but clearly something needs to change morally and practically.

At 8/25/2005 12:37:00 AM, Blogger Jamie Dawn said...

My brother is a music teacher in the Pasadena area. He teaches at two high schools: one is a Christian school (He calls Christian High), the other is a public school (He calls Pagan High.) He loves teaching and enjoys both schools, but there is a difference between them.
The environment at a school makes all the difference in the world. If strict standards are demanded, the kids "rise to meet them," just as you stated. I fear that the school in Canton, OH is letting other things (TV, music, movies, magazines, etc...) set the standards there, and creating a "Let's All Have Babies Like Brittany Spears!" atmosphere.

At 8/25/2005 02:58:00 AM, Blogger Mark said...

I don't know about high schools but when I am in a mall and i see teenage girls wearing pants that show the crack of her butt and she is with her mom, I wonder about what her mom is teaching her.

At 8/25/2005 03:35:00 AM, Blogger mlwhitt said...

Like Mark said, parents who let teenage girls run around dressed like 25 year olds. I am going to do the best I can do to make my daughter happy, but if her happiness lies in being able to dress like a hoochie momma, she's got another thing coming.

At 8/25/2005 03:39:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 8/25/2005 03:44:00 AM, Blogger Christian Gunslinger said...

I'm a former teacher and school board member. You made some good points. I'm in the process of reading Hugh Hewitt's book--Blog. It looks like you may have too. You might be interested in mine--christiangunslinger. I just started last month and I'm not a computer person. Keep up the good posts.

At 8/25/2005 03:46:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 8/25/2005 04:40:00 AM, Blogger Poison Pero said...

What's really sad is there were probably many more than reported......Because they wouldn't have reported abortion figures.
The whole thing is a mess.

As a natino we have so many young girls who don't have fathers and don't know how to act around boys/men. They are searching for that male figure in their life and will do anything to have them.

Unfortunately, there are way too many punks out there all to willing fill their needs (temporarily), and then leave them as soon as they are knocked up.

Those who abort the babies are adding to the Prenatal Holocaust.

Those who chose to keep the babies are adding to the astronomical statistic of children without fathers.

This is our #1 social problem......Children without fathers.

If we don't figure out a way to take care of this one all the rest will end up at the bottom of the toilet.

At 8/25/2005 07:02:00 AM, Blogger Lores Rizkalla said...

i agree with you all. and, one thing i did not mention in the post is that i think what we have imparted to women, young and old, about identity and value plays a critical role in this picture, relative to sexuality not just pregnancy.

i have to agree with pero about the effect of fatherlessness. at the end of the day, if a girl says "no" and acts on it, boys would not (unless they're willing to commit a crime) have their way. one of the major problems in our society today is that women (young and old) are not saying "no, i'm worth waiting for."


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