AT LEAST 17 American high school students, many aged 16 and younger, are expecting babies after apparently making a pregnancy pact.
Officials in the Massachusetts city of Gloucester say nearly half those who became pregnant appeared to have made a pact to have their babies together over the year.
A group of high school students have allegedly made a pregnancy pact. At least 17 girls at one Massachusetts high school are expecting.
Some girls seemed more upset when they weren't pregnant than when they were, Gloucester High School principal Joseph Sullivan told Time magazine, which broke the news on its website on Thursday.
A high school health clinic became suspicious after seeing an increase in girls seeking pregnancy tests.
The 1200-student school administered 150 pregnancy tests to students in the past academic year.
Authorities are looking at whether to pursue statutory rape charges against some of the men involved. Some are aged in their mid-20s, including one man who appeared to be homeless. Others were boys in the school.
Under Massachusetts law, it is a crime to have sex with anyone under the age of 16.
We're at the very early stages of wrestling with the complexities of this problem, said Carolyn Kirk, mayor of the port city about 50 kilometres north-east of Boston.
But we also have to think about the boys. Some of these boys could have their lives changed.
They could be in serious serious trouble, even if it was consensual, because of their age not from what the city could do but from what the girls families could do Mrs Kirk said.
Gloucester School Committee chairman Greg Verga said: At the very least these men should be held responsible for financial support, if not put in jail for statutory rape as the mayor has suggested."
Nationwide teen pregnancies are showing signs of rising after steadily declining from 1991 to 2005. The data seem to be indicating that the declines that we had seen through the 1990s are coming to a close said researcher David Landry, of the Guttmacher Institute, a New York-based non-profit group that focuses on reproductive issues.
Birth rates for teenagers aged 15 to 17 rose by 3% in 2006 the first increase since 1991 according to preliminary data released in December by the National Centre for Health Statistics