Lessons for Bristol Palin from the Gloucester Teenagers

1220366020First Jamie Lynn Spears, now Bristol Palin. Teenage pregnancy has a new poster child every few months, and footage of Republican vice presidential hopeful Sarah Palin’s daughter will roll as the talking heads debate what this means for our society.

Gloucester’s pregnant teenagers could certainly tell Bristol a thing or two about how to weather the media scrutiny she’ll face until one of the kids from High School Musical reveals she is with child. After the jump, we discuss who has it worse—Bristol, or the kids from Gloucester.

Internet Rumors
Gloucester: Though it appeared on Time magazine’s website, former Gloucester principal Joseph Sullivan’s claim that there was a pregnancy pact have never been substantiated.

Bristol Palin: A blogger on the Daily Kos alleged this weekend that Bristol, not Sarah Palin, is the mother of Trig Palin. The post has since been removed from the site.

Who has it worse: Bristol. The rumor that led to the Palins announcing Bristol’s pregnancy is straight out of Desperate Housewives.

Media Scrutiny
Gloucester: Almost every media outlet in the world descended upon the small town, pestering every young mother who dared leave the house. And then there was Chris Cuomo’s kid-gloves interview with the one pregnant couple that agreed to sit down with him.

Bristol Palin: The Globe reports that the 17-year-old hasn’t made any appearances with her mother since Friday’s rally. But the media is certainly scrambling to find where the girl is holed up.

Who has it worse: Bristol. The attention paid to Gloucester was intense, but it was diffused between all the young mothers-to-be.

Gloucester: The Beverly Horribles parade grossly lampooned the pregnant girls, and the high school principal resigned after not receiving enough support from community leaders.

Bristol Palin: Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama declared the scandal “off limits” to his supporters, and social conservatives applauded Palin for agreeing to marry the baby’s father and keep the child.

Who has it worse: Gloucester. While those girls were hounded and villified for having babies out of wedlock, most people seem willing to lay off Palin.

Gloucester: The young mothers are still left to raise their children, either with the baby’s father, or on their own.

Bristol Palin: The girl’s family pledges to financially and emotionally support their daughter.

Who has it worse: Gloucester. None of them have a parent who is governor of a state, or running for national office.

While we end with a draw, it feels like the kids from Gloucester got the short end of the stick. Nobody called for the press to leave them alone as they faced their very public trials, while Bristol has been deemed off-limits from criticism. With teenage pregnancy rates rising slightly, we should keep discussing how to prevent and deal with youth pregnancies, whether we’re framing the debate with a politician’s daughter or some working-class kids from the North Shore.