26 February 2013

Teenage Pregnancy in a Catholic School

Catholic schools in this country as a matter of course are as conservative in outlook as the Church to which they belong. The degree of each school's conservatism is, to a certain extent, dictated by the religious orders that operate each school.

Suffice it to say that whatever the degree of a Catholic school's conservatism, there is in most likelihood going to be a very strongly worded statement in the student handbook against premarital sex along with the accompanying sanctions if a student is proven to have engaged in such.

Most, if not all, Catholic schools consider premarital sex as among the offences considered 'grave;' and in most likelihood will be punishable with dismissal or expulsion - or, in less diplomatic school parlance, the 'kick out.'

Since Catholic schools are by nature judicious, not even the most conservative will expel a student on the charge of premarital sex without irrefutable proof that the offence was indeed committed.


More often than not, parents of a pregnant teenager will prefer to withdraw the student from a school so that she can quietly see her pregnancy through somewhere away from society’s judgmental eyes.
This was always the tricky part before video-capable cellular phones became ubiquitous to spawn a generation that records the most intimate of acts in what street lingo simply refers to as the 'scandal.'

Thus, in earlier eras, premarital sex cases in Catholic schools when these were brought to fruition were more often than not based on the irrefutable proof of a teenage pregnancy. The females, naturally, did not have on their side the deniability that males have always enjoyed.

Because males have always enjoyed the unfair advantage of being able to deny accountability or involvement in the act of copulation, the premarital sex provision has always been somewhat discriminatory against females.

The traditional punishment of expulsion is based on two main lines of thinking. First, with the expulsion the school makes an example that is believed will dissuade others from committing the same offence.

The second line of thinking says that removing the pregnant student protects the morals of the rest of the studentry because then they are not exposed to the notion of the act that led to the pregnancy.

Neither line of thinking will probably be able to hold water. Even long before pornography became easily accessible due to the preponderance of gadgets and the ubiquity of the Internet, it had already been suggested by studies that the influence of schools on a young person's development could be as low as a measly ten per cent.

Thus, a young person's values and attitudes are as much influenced - if not more - by the immediate and extended families, the peer groups, the neighbourhood and community along with, inevitably, the mass media.

Who can safely claim, therefore, that expelling a pregnant student effectively insulates others from the sexuality that the former is believed to represent?

There is the alternative and probably more progressive thinking that says that the pregnant teenager is already too traumatised by the pregnancy to be further punished. The pregnant girl will inevitably be facing anatomical changes that she is not really psychologically prepared for as well as deal with the sociological stigma that accompanies her condition.

Therefore, she needs support more than condemnation. She not only needs support that will enable her to see her pregnancy through but also support that will prepare her to face the responsibilities that invariably come with motherhood.

In other words, she needs compassion more than discipline. And compassion - as if I needed to say - is as much a Christian virtue as saying the Our Fathers and the Hail Marys.

In all fairness, the position that Catholic schools take towards premarital sex and pregnancy is well established; and such conservatism may well be the very reason why parents enrol their children in them.

More often than not, parents of a pregnant teenager will prefer to withdraw the student from a school so that she can quietly see her pregnancy through somewhere away from society's judgmental eyes.

The withdrawal will enable her to pick up her life again after she has her baby; albeit if she goes to another Catholic school she may have to lie her way through to graduation.

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