I was ironing and watching TV when the local news set me off. (Not a hard thing to do.) A reporter was “live” in the northern Boston suburb of Gloucester, Massachusetts.
Gloucester High School is experiencing a horrific epidemic that is plaguing the community. Seventeen teenage girls got pregnant last year. This is an epidemic. Damn it, 17 teenage girls are pregnant. The parents want to know how this happened. The school committee is scrambling to change polices to address this issue. How did this happen in Gloucester!? The school committee met and agreed to put contraceptives in the school clinic.
I yelled at the television. I slammed the iron. It is a good day in Boston’s inner-city neighborhood – Roxbury, Dorchester, or Mattapan – when we can say that ONLY 17 teenage girls got pregnant last year. These Gloucester girls planned their pregnancies as a group, together, because they want their children to grow up with one another. But how about the young teenage girl in Roxbury who is getting pregnant not because she wants her kid to grow up with her friends’ children, but because her own mother abandoned her for crack and this young teenager wants to be loved.
Why is the school committee in Gloucester strategizing on how to address this problem before it grows, and here in the city our problem has been growing and growing and no one seems alarmed? Can we get some help here? Just what needs to happen in our communities, and in our schools, before someone takes notice and sees our white flag? The image that comes to mind is that unforgettable one from Hurricane Katrina. The clip was shown over and over. Remember the black man waving his white T-shirt above the writing on the rooftop that read, “HELP”?