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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Pregnancy Pact


The situation is brought to you as a school psychologist that a group of girls in your building are planning to become pregnant at the same time because of the publicity it generated.


How do you handle this situation? What are the ethical and legal ramifications of your plans of actions?


This blog was created by Alaafia Ajibade & Mike Drozdick

23 comments:

Mark said...

This is an interesting situation, would you follow the protocol similar to dealing with suicide? If these girls have developed a pact, are all in agreement or pressured by their peers and fearful to backdown? Also, it seems to be an issue of risky behavior, not only pregnancy but with STD's.

Rebeccca said...

This is clearly a tricky sinario. I would try to inform parents of the sitution even if students would not feel comfortable with that. In addition, I may try to educate them about the lifelong difficulties they would subsequenlty have.

I may also have to talk with an administrator to see if it is a peer pressure or harassment issue where one student is pressuring another to be involved.

Prattima Kaulessar said...

Parents, administrators, and clinicians need to work together in this scenario. I believe the clinician, in this case, is ethically obligated to inform the parents involved and conduct therapeutic intervention ASAP!

In addition, more should be done, within the education system, to bring awareness to the forefront. Reading about it would not do, students need to experience what it would be like as a single parent, for a day, that may be enough to deter any dreamlike thoughts and bring them back to reality!

AmandaBish said...

If these girls are doing this as a publicity stunt, I sure hope they don't have a problem when their parents get involved. I think that is definitely number 1... parents, school psychologists, medical professionals (nurses or doctors), and potential fathers should definitely be involved. Teenagers are impulsive... it must be made clear to them their "pact" has LIFE long ramifications.

I don't know how detailed their scenario is, but if they have boyfriends or know who the intended sperm donor is, I think there is an ethical obligation to inform them in case some sort of deceit is going on.

I definitely agree with the above statements that if some sort of hazing is involved it should be dealt with immediately.

Legally, there are not breaking the law so this is a tough situation. Unless there is statutory rape, coercion, or blatant deceit going on technically they are doing nothing wrong. So it is necessary for the psychologist to go above and beyond in this situation to figure out what is really going on.

Rebeccca said...

I think it may also be useful in this situation to try to sit down with the student and ask them why they want to get attention in this manner.

Every action has its reason and if the pact is being done soley for attention then the students need to be presented with alternate ways to get the attention they seek.

That would be a very differnt FBA to write up.

Mark said...

That is a good point the underlying reasons behind the pact can shed light on their motives. Attention-seeking and risky behaviors, whether cutting or this pact need to be addressed with interventions and if this is public knowledge there is no hesitation to contact the parents.

Anel said...

To answer Mark's original question, I would definitely follow the same protocol as with suicide, because this pact shows there is a plan in place. And I do agree that everyone (teachers, parents, administrators, etc) need to be brought in on this one, so that important signs are not being missed. A change in behavior in school often correlates with a change in behavior at home.

Ana said...

I agree with everyone in that everyone involved should be notified. I agree with Amanda in that these teenagers need an immediate intervention and be notified about the life long ramifications this entails! This is a very tricky situation because it involves many people and also serious health risks (STD's). Like Anel, I would probably follow a protocol similar to that of dealing with suicide.

Danielle Muhammad said...

Rebecca I agree with you. I would first try to educate the girls because ultimately it is their decision. We can notify parents for days, but the decision will be made by the two people who engage in unprotected sex.
I would also contact the media and ask that they come in and warn these children that they will not come out and support the story. Hopefully this will deter them since no publicity will take place. I would ask that the media give the girls an opportunity to do the opposite. Meaning that they receive publicity for abstaining from sex!
Realistically, with shows such as MTV's 16 and pregnant what are we supposed to do? I recently watched an episode for the first time and it was terrible.

Mark said...

I think a big point that was brought up is the media and what these students are exposed to. It helps to know the environment that these girls are brought up in and possibly educate not only the pact-girls but the entire school.

Rebeccca said...

I agree that much of what you would do would be similar to suicide prevention except that one large part is that if it is an immediate threat you get suicidal students to a hospital.

I am fairly sure that you could not admit someone to a hosiptal becusae they want to get pregnant. Though this sounds like a small difference I feel that it is an important difference because we will not have a hospital and doctors to hand off the problem on for a little while until things calm down. Not that we send a kids to the hopsital and forget about it but you have a backup team that can watch the kid throughout the night and hold them for observation...with a pregnancy pact this is not available.

Alaafia said...

I agree with Rebecca that a girl who wants to get pregnant is not in any imminent danger as opposed to someone who is suicidal. But as Danielle mentioned, will abstainence really work? I read of a school district which wanted to supply contraceptives to their students in order to reduce the pregnancy rate. How do you see this?

Prattima Kaulessar said...

Something needs to be done about children actively in pursuit of having children! Alaafia, to answer your question, I believe that particular school district is taking a proactive role in seeking alternative contraceptive options since one can preach abstinence until they are blue in the face, it is not going to happen with all of the provocative images and vulgarity on television and in the media on a daily basis. American society is not as wholesome as it once was and we are feeling the negative impact based on the presence of situations such as this one.

Alarys said...

Pregnancy Pact
I agree with you Prattima, a school district has to be proactive, but many religious members of those communities will not stand to have contraceptives in school. I agree with everyone in reference to intervention through the communication of not only parents, but school staff. According to ABC’s Teen Baby Boom in a Mass. High School article, one seventeen year old student had sex with a homeless man to get pregnant. In cities nationwide there is a rise in teen pregnancy and like Danielle said shows like 16 and pregnant and movies like Juno are being blamed for the increase in teen pregnancy.
An issue such as this should become a priority in certain districts. There must be programs implemented to make students more aware of the great responsibility that comes with having children. What happened to those lessons on child rearing? Maybe the classes that forces students to take care of a fake baby who never lets them sleep should be brought back into the public school curriculum.
All jokes aside if a child decides, after all intervention has been implemented, to become a teen mom there are alternative actions they can take to continue on with their education after the baby is born. So like many of you said it is not like suicide, pregnancy does not have to be the end of the road for these young students.

Danielle Allegra said...

The parents, teachers, clinicians.. everyone should be involved.. there should be mannnyy interventiond and meetings with the girls. To answer Alaafia's question i think that may be the best thing to do right now. i only graduated from high school 5 years ago and it is soo different.. abstince will never work with all the shows on tv, the clothing, the celebrities and how they dress.. so providing contraceptives is a way to stop the STD's spreading pregancies. it's a realistic approach

Alaafia said...

With the way society is set up right now, as almost evryone has said, this is a tricky and delicate issue, but something we are likely to come across in our professional careers as school psychologists. There is always need for enlightenment of everyone involved parents, students, teachers, and all stakeholders. Also, as Danielle Allegra stated education on abstainence alone will never be effective. Options have to be offered even though some people will see offering contraceptives as an incentive for students to engage in sexual activity, but it is something that needs to be considered and offered as a choice to students to prevent or reduce teenage pregnancy.

Apart from offering contraceptives, are there any other things that can be done that has not been discussed or other ideas?

Mike said...

I believe that a crucial part of dealing with this scenario lies in early intervention. As a leader, the school psychologist should have an established relationship with teachers and administrators so that the lines of communication are open early. Once again, it is our ethical obligation here rather than any legal precedent. Even the term "emotional disturbance" under IDEA requires the behavior to be exhibited over a long period of time. Unfortunately in this case, the "pregnancy pact" phenomenon is a fast moving trend that can have lifelong repercussions.

Danielle Muhammad said...

It would be great if school districts took a more active role in prevention. However, I teach in a K-8 school and sex is not mentioned at all. I personally believe kids as young as 11 are having intercourse. They could just be talking about it, but who is to say? They do not have family life class or heath so they are missing out on learning about sex before having sex. I remember seeing the "blue book" when I was in HS and it terrified us. It was a book with very graphic pictures of STD's. If it didn't stop people from being sexually active, it was a reminder of how important condoms are! However, at what age do you start introducing these concepts to children? Music is introducing kids to sex very early, but schools don't want to talk about it. For example, "Birthday Sex" is a very popular song that children ages 2 and up are singing. How appropriate is that?

Denise said...

I would force them all to sit down and watch the "Miracle of Life" video and hope that smacks them back to reality.... jk! (Although that would've definitely worked on me at that age - or wait, now too). This is a very tricky situation but I would definitely want to inform their parents of what's going on so that not only would the school be aware of the situation but the community around them as well. I'm not going to repeat what everyone else has already said because I agree with most of it. Maybe if the community around these kids is aware of going on everyone can make a collaborative effort to reach out to them.

Prattima Kaulessar said...

You are right, Danielle. In addition to your comment, I believe schools are responsible for educating students about contraceptives, diseases, and ramifications of their actions but parents need to take a more active role in the rearing of their children. Essentially, it is not the schools’ sole responsibility to educate and inform. Parents must engage in conversation with and monitor their children’s actions regardless of how uncomfortable or inconvenient it may be. After all, that is the job of a parent.

I was doing research for a paper recently, and realized there is an enormous amount of evidence to support the correlation between effective parenting and positive child outcomes. Contrastingly, there is as much, if not more research, on lax parental control and poor child outcomes as demonstrated by the increased rates of serious juvenile delinquency, pregnancy, and STD rates among adolescents. This is a societal issue and everyone needs to get involved and take responsibility, especially, parents.

Alarys said...

I absolutely agree with Prattima in my curriculum course, this was an ongoing discussion in class. There was always a disagreement about what subjects should be taught at home and what subjects should be part of the curriculum. The professor always asked do we have enough time in the school day to incorporate these subjects.

Rebeccca said...

I think you guys are right that this really is a problem that stems more from the home more than from school itself. But if the student's parents are not doing anything then the burden falls on us and we have to deal with it because the schools will be blamed either way.

Gabrielle Walker said...

If I found out that a group of girls at my school made a pregnancy pact I would immediately contact their families. The girls would probably be extremely upset with my decision but I feel that parents need to be involved in dealing with such a sensitive issue. I would also be interested in finding out what sparked this plan to become pregnant because today bullying and peer pressure is on the rise in many schools. I don’t think many teenagers realize just how hard it is to raise a child alone. Children are very expensive; they demand lots of time and attention that most teenagers simply don’t have. I agree with many of the previous posts that stress the importance of bringing awareness to this issue within the education system. Students need to experience what it feels like to wake up at 4am in the morning to comfort an infant, fail to go out partying on Saturday night or see how their income dwindles when they have to buy diapers, milk etc. Teenagers simply are not ready to raise a child when they are still growing up themselves.

Today, being a teenage mom is often glamorized due to shows such as Teen Mom. The girls on this show are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to allow cameras to document their lives as a teenage mother. In addition, these girls not only appear on television but also in popular magazines and are seen by many as celebrities. I think this show had great intentions to show the hardships of young motherhood but it was not executed properly. I recently heard a young girl say she wants to get pregnant just so she be casted on the show Teen Mom!! It is extremely important that young girls realize that these cast members are not role models and they should not aspire to live their lifestyles.

At the end of the day, school psychologist's cannot stop students from engaging in unprotected sex. Their best option is to inform the teen of the risks and inform the parents ASAP.

Gabrielle Walker