Didn’t they? Revisit the lede from Time’s now-famous article. No school official is quoted using the word “pact,” but in the context of describing a conversation with school principal Joseph Sullivan, Time offers this: “All it took was a few simple questions before nearly half the expecting students, none older than 16, confessed to making a pact to get pregnant and raise their babies together.”
Simple enough, no? Er, no. From last night’s Gloucester Daily Times:
School Superintendent Christopher Farmer said he had never heard the term “pact” from students, parents, teachers or administrators at the high school and planned to investigate whether the agreement was real or a product of the national media.
“I had never heard the term ‘pact’ until Time magazine wrote it,” Farmer said. “All we knew was that there was a small group of girls who were not disappointed in the idea of being pregnant. I had never heard of any kind of communal effort that girls were trying to get pregnant.”…
In an interview Friday, June 6, the last day of school, Sullivan described to the Times the group who had become pregnant as a social “clique” of girls who wanted to have babies. Sullivan has been on vacation this week and cannot be reached…
[One parent] said her daughter knew some of the girls involved and suggested that any “pact” between them had been made after they were pregnant and was to stay in school and raise the babies together.
The GDT’s editor published his own separate piece yesterday affirming that no one ever used the term “pact” with them either, although their own initial report on the pregnancies from March has Sullivan claiming that some upperclassmen told him younger students may be getting pregnant on purpose. Evidently a lot hangs on that “may.” Or does it? The freakiest part of the story isn’t that the girls might have formally coordinated, as freaky as that would be; it’s that, coordination or not, more than four times the usual number are pregnant and at least a few — “nearly half,” according to Time, again seemingly citing Sullivan — did it on purpose. Which is worse, the possibility that they’re in cahoots or the possibility that they’re not, that 18 pregnancies were just a product of peer pressure, copycatism, and an unusual strain of teen pregnancy themes in entertainment over the past year?
While we’re at it, two other questions. First, where’s Sullivan? Suddenly there’s global media attention for what’s happening at his school and he seems to be the source for most of the freakiest details about pacts and intentional pregnancy — and yet he just happens to be on vacation this week and can’t be bothered to interrupt it to take some questions? I wonder if the vacation was planned or if his superiors “suggested” it. Second, is Farmer playing dumb in the blockquote about not knowing anything about a pact or “communal effort”? Watch this clip of him describing some of the girls being “together, talking about becoming pregnant, and that being a positive thing for them.” Maybe this really is nothing more than people needing to be more precise with the words they choose … or maybe it’s all true and they’re so humiliated they’re going to try to put the genie back in the bottle with denials after the fact.