I can hear the cries of those who see this as the result of a morally lax culture, further evidence of the decline of morality.
Now, it's hard for this minister and sexologist not to think along with many, "what were they thinking?" Surely in today's world, somewhere along the line, these young woman had to know that unprotected sex was not a good idea, that having a child as a teenager would change their lives forever. It's easy to be glib and think they weren't thinking.
But, I'm guessing they were. If national research holds up, these girls probably came from homes where there was little discussion about sexuality or options for young women's futures being greater if parenthood is delayed until their twenties or later. I'm guessing some of these girls came from homes with too little supervision and a permissive atmosphere where they learned that teen sex wasn't such a big deal; conversely, some may have come from homes that were too strict, where they felt disconnected from their own family and sought to create their own. And they were thinking like early adolescents: concentrating on what would be fun about new babies, baby showers, extra attention, and someone who would love them unconditionally. I hope the community is help to reach out to them with compassion.
Of course, their individual stories may be different, but there is a clear message in these stories for my readers who are parents. Parents who talk openly and honestly about sexuality with their tween and teen children, including explicitly sharing their values about when sexual intercourse is appropriate (after high school, in a committed relationship, when engaged at marriage, YOUR value) have teens who wait longer. Telling your teen your hopes for their futures and offering your support results in teens who delay and who use contraception when they do become sexually active. Share your values, set limits for their dating behavior, offer your unconditional love. I talk more about all of this in my books "Beyond the Big Talk" and "What Every 21st Century Parent Needs to Know." Check out that website.
And start tonight's dinner conversation by asking your teens if they have heard about Ms. Spears and the "pregnancy pact." Ask them what they think. Listen. Share your values and hopes for them. Tell them you love them and your are there for them, and that their lives will be easier, perhaps better, if they wait to become parents until their adults.
It's not a complicated discussion. We'll be having it at my dinner table tonight. Let me know how it goes.
POST SCRIPT: See my longer blog on this issue at my blog on Huffington Post.