With films such as "Juno" scoring well among critics and moviegoers last year and the media's great attention to the birth Thursday of 17-year-old Jamie Lynn Spears' daughter, many say teen pregnancy is being glamorized in the media.
Keith Ablow, a psychiatrist and FOX News contributor, said factors such as these may have played into a reported pregnancy pact made by girls at Gloucester High School in Gloucester, Mass., where the pregnancy rate has quadrupled in the past year.
School officials were baffled at first, but they soon discovered nearly half of the 17 expectant moms had made a pact to get pregnant and raise their babies, school principal Joseph Sullivan told Time.com.
"It's shocking," Ablow said. "But the other thing we should realize is that we are hot on the heels of Jamie Lynn Spears deciding to start a family and of mass media embracing the notion and waiting with bated breath for her baby."
Ablow talked to FOXNews.com just hours before it was announced that Jamie Lynn had given birth in Mississippi.
The father is Casey Aldridge, a 19-year-old from Liberty, Miss. He and Jamie Lynn announced their engagement several months ago.
Because teens increasingly have more friends on MySpace than they do in real life, it’s no wonder they are searching for something more meaningful, Ablow said.
"In a world that is so technologically based, there will be predictable push-back from young people," Ablow said. "They want to remind themselves that they are alive and human. One of the ways people do this is that they reproduce."
The pregnancy boom in Gloucester High is an extreme example of what’s happening across the country. According to the latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the nation’s teen birth rate increased in 2006 for the first time in 14 years.
"People are increasingly going to stumble around to reconnect with something that is genuine and real," Ablow said. "The obvious things people stumble around are sex, a desperate search for love and things like piercing and tattooing, which is an epidemic among young people."
Unfortunately, the realization that caring for a fussy baby is not what the teens really want or need often comes too late, Ablow said.
Because of this, he said, parents need to give their kids more opportunities to genuinely express themselves. "Otherwise, teenagers will find another way to express themselves that will ultimately disappoint their parents and cause them pain."