Thank you all for your kind words concerning my student who thinks she might be pregnant. The trouble about situations like this is that technically, school personnel is under no specific obligation to inform parents of issues like this. (I know, right?) The other five or so times this happened to me, the child immediately agreed to allow me to break the news to their parents and we handled it from there. There was no violation of trust in me as a confidant because though I gently pressed upon the students that the sooner they told their parents, the better it would be, it was a decision that I allowed them to come to themselves instead me going "behind their backs."
This time my student is much more hesitant to talk with her parents. I spoke with her again Friday after school and tried to gently persuade her to tell her parents sooner, rather than later, even offering to tell them myself first so that it took some of the pressure off of her to tell. She seemed agreeable to me talking with her parents, then waffled a bit and said that she would tell them when she "found the right time." I could sense her indecision and asked if she'd like the weekend to think about it and she said she would. I'll talk to her again this afternoon and will use a bit more firm, but gentle pressure to talk with her parents.
As if that situation wasn't enough, I also learned on Friday that I have a student on my team who is definitely pregnant. She had a positive home test the week before last and has a doctor's appointment sometime this week. I don't know what decision is going to be made about her pregnancy (and neither does she, for that matter), but at least her parents are aware and are actively involved.
The thing that gets me about these two students is that they are at the bottom of my list for girls who I would have expected to have pregnancy crises this year. I have a tough group of students this year, especially when it comes to the girls. Many of my students come from broken homes and have extremely low socioeconomic statuses, and their backgrounds usually lead to them having significant behavior problems in the classroom. These two girls have active and involved parents, have comfortable home lives, and are generally well-behaved. They're the types of girls who you look at and expect that they'll be able to stay on track straight through college. They still seem to have the appropriate childlike nature about them instead of trying to carry themselves as "you can't talk to me that way" adults. While I'm careful not to make assumptions about my students based on their appearances, I still can't help but know that I would have expected something like this from a handful of other girls far before I would have expected it from these two particular girls.
What most rattles me is that these girls are just five years older than Kyra. Like these girls, Kyra has the benefit of an emotionally comfortable home, of parents who love her and an extended support system. The truth is that as parents, we never know. We do our best to raise our children and teach them of the dangers of the world so that they might avoid them. We like to think "not my child," but truth of the matter is that no matter how good the upbringing, it's still ultimately up to the child to make the decisions that affect his or her life, and all we can do is be there to help guide them from one decision to the next and help them work through the consequences, whether good or bad.
I keep thinking about what the girls' parents are thinking/will think and how I would feel if I were in their shoes. I pray that I never am, but if I were I know that I would be asking myself Where did I go wrong? and How could I let this happen? Even now, I feel a bit powerless in knowing that as a parent, I can try my best to raise my children to keep themselves safe, but that I can't dodge or block every bullet for them.