By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Teenage wasteland

In my latest for the Guardian, I take a look at the sad story of Jamie Lynn Spears — Britney’s 16-year-old sister, role model and, as we all now know, pregnant.

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How graphic?


Missing in action


  1. Steve

    Teenagers have sex. Sometimes they get pregnant. (As the father of a 21-year-old daughter, I know how frightening those truths are to you Dan, but they are nonetheless true.)It may be the best thing to happen to Jamie that she leaves the spotlight to live a real life.It may be the best thing to happen to her fans to see that pregnancy is sometimes a consequence of sex.BTW, Atrios commented on this situation; comments I heartily agree with.

  2. Dan Kennedy

    Steve: You “heartily agree” with Atrios, yet your comments are so much more well thought out than his. I don’t disagree with you except for your endorsement of his juvenile reaction.

  3. Steve

    Well, I didn’t say “Bite me”. 🙂 But I chalk that up to Duncan’s youthful exuberance. I was young and foolish myself once upon a time.Maybe I’ll dial back the “heartily”. It was indiscrete considering her position as a TV star – it certainly ruins the franchise. But I don’t think that it will affect the frequency with which teenage girls will start hopping into bed (to the relief of fathers and the dismay of teenage boys everywhere). Does your daughter agree? I would defer to her view of the situation.I do agree with him that it’s natural for 16-year-olds to have sex, and it’s stupid for the media to pretend that it doesn’t happen.

  4. Anonymous

    I don’t really see the cause-and-effect here. People who engage in schadenfraude over celebrities’ misadventures cause teen star’s pregnancy? Too much Calvinism or karma or something-or-other there for this skeptic.Foir the record, I did not engage in any behaviors that could be considered by even the most fanciful of commentators the cause of a 16-year-old’s pregnancy.Bob in Peabody

  5. Anonymous

    Also for the record: young Ms. Spears’s neck-of-the-woods (the La/Ms border) has the highest illegitimacy rate in the country: Numero Uno, according to NCHS. Why does this most christian,red,conservative area have such a problem with protection if they are so sexually active?

  6. Rick in Duxbury

    On a brighter note, we have the object lesson of the results of prolonged drug and alcohol abuse. Lynne Spears literally looks younger than Britney. Who knows, cosmetic surgery? HGH?

  7. Don, American

    Are you beating another dead horse? She won’t win either.

  8. Anonymous

    Having recently raised three children through their teenage years, (and no, they are not homely) I can asure you that all teenagers don’t have sex. If encouraged to abstain until marriage (yes, even the boys) or at least until they have found someone they intend to commit to. I am not saying we put our head in the sand regarding birth control, and we don’t rule with an iron fist either. The liberal view that since they are going to do it anyway, we may as well help them, is rediculous and obviousley not working. In my experience, if you teach abstainance and respnsibility you are way ahead of the game. Scaring the hell out of them with examples of how teenage pregnancy ruins your life doesn’t hurt either. After this Spears thing plays itself out I am pretty sure I will be able to add it to my list of train wrecks that I can use as examples of why you don’t have sex if you are not in a position to raise a child. The only way to be 100% sure that you won’t get or make someone pregnant is by not having sex.

  9. Anonymous

    Amen, 9:16. With all due respect, Steve, it’s natural for teenagers to WANT to have sex. It’s also natural to wonder what multiple tequila shots will do to you. That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. I maintain that kids are smarter than we think but still crave structure and direction, to mitigate the insecurities and hyper-sexualization modern media, (thanks a lot, Ralph Lauren), foists on them. If we decide that sex by 16 year olds is “natural”, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  10. Rob

    It’s sad but these things happen and always will.Very good post once again.

  11. Anonymous

    Anon 11:53 a.m.: It is readily apparfent to anyoen that 16-year-ols having sex is “natural,” i.e., what would happen in a state of nature without the imposition opf societal standards. The tricky part is convincing 16-year-old not to give into these natural urges.I’m doing my part by making my kids into nerds. — instrumental music lessons, Destination Imagination, family vacations to places like Gettysburg and Fort Ticonderoga. Ages 12 and 9, so far, so good. They can blossom in college, when the acne clears up and the braces come off.One of the most alarming trends in America is the onset of puberty at an earlier and earlier age. I’d like to government funding for a pill that would delay that by about five years.Bob in Peabody

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