Documentary: 86 Pregnancies in One High School
Would You Take The Purity Pledge?
When the kids at Frayser High School in Memphis, Tennessee, aren't hitting the books, they're busy knocking each other up. The school, which had 86 pregnant students last year (11 percent of the entire student body), is the subject of a new documentary on Nat Geo this week.
The National Geographic Channel will follow the exceptionally fertile teenagers in Taboo: Teen Sex, a new sex documentary airing this weekend. In particular, the show will focus on the controversial abstinence ball the school held in June 2011.
Frayser High made headlines with its shockingly high pregnancy rate -- almost 90 female students became pregnant during the 2011 school year. That prompted the school's fathers to form a faith-based alliance with the single goal of protecting their daughters' wombs.
The result? A "Purity Ball," a formal event in which the girls walked down a church aisle and pledged their virginity -- in front of TV cameras -- until they got married. Their dads then presented them with purity rings to seal their promise.
Before his twin 15-year-old daughters participated in the ball, Pastor Charlie Caswell never talked to them about sex. But the idea of teen pregnancy scared him enough to force his hand.
"Before we did this, we wouldn't talk about (sex)," said Caswell. "It was avoided at all costs. But this made it real to me and made it real to them, and made clear what we expect from them and how their lives can become better."
Caswell, however, is realistic in his expectations of teen behavior. If they have to have sex, he says, at least be safe about it.
"We understand (an abstinence pledge) doesn't work for everybody," Caswell said. "We know that these young ladies are having sex. They're going out there and they're going to do it, so we make sure we let them know about contraception that's out there. But it's my prayer as a pastor that they would sustain themselves until marriage."