FLDS and arithmetic
I believe that when I read the original CNN report, it included the fact that two of the girls were actually pregnant. But either I misread it or the story has been revised since--at this point there is no number for pregnant girls, only for the number claimed to be either pregnant or mothers. We'll have to wait and see which is the case. It's a bit odd that they would simply lump the numbers together.
It appears, incidentally, that whether the girls actually are 17 or under is unclear. The Texas authorities seem to be judging age by appearance and refusing to accept birth certificates as evidence, at least according to a news story. Another news story refers to CPS documents claiming three pregnant girls, with at least one of them disputed by an attorney for the FLDS
The Time magazine story online gives the figure of only two girls pregnant. One might almost suppose that someone in the Texas CPS realized how bad the figure was for their argument and changed the account they gave to CNN.
According to the most recent statement of the Texas authorities, as reported by CNN:
1. 53 girls between 14 and 17 are in custody.
2. 31 of them either have had children or are pregnant
3. 2 are pregnant.
Assuming CNN is accurately reporting the figures, two points are worth noting.
First, the two figures appear inconsistent. If, on average, two girls are pregnant at any one time, they should be producing about ten children in four years--but the authorities claim at least 29 children–more if some of the girls have had more than one child. Even allowing for random variation in the rate of pregnancies, a factor of three is an awfully big discrepency.
[On further consideration this is wrong. At the end of four years, ten children will have been produced by mothers who were 14-17 when the children were born, but only half of those mothers will still be under 18, so only about five children will have been produced by mothers who are still in the 14-17 range. According to the Texas authorities at least 29 were.]
Perhaps I'm unduly suspicious, but it occurs to me that it's easier to prove the state is lying about whether a girl is pregnant than about whether she has had a child. To what extent the latter can be disproved with DNA evidence I don't know–I gather the population is pretty inbred, which may make that harder. The girls are all under state control–it will be interesting to see if doctors selected by the parents are permitted to examine them for evidence that they have or have not had children.
Second, a little googling turned up a teen pregnancy rate in Texas, for girls 15-17, of about 4%. [another source has about 6%] So the number of pregnant teens actually present in the FLDS population is about average. Oddly enough, that wasn't the CNN headline.
I also note that CNN is still saying, of the initial caller, that "That girl has not been found and authorities are investigating whether the call was a hoax." They neglect to mention in the story that the identity of the hoaxer has been pretty clearly established, as reported in the London Times a week or so ago. The link that supposedly goes to a video on "who might be behind the calls" actually goes to a video about minors having children, with an outraged woman reporter initially confusing the number who have had children (supposedly 25 in her report) with the number who are pregnant (2). There is a link in small print in the "Don't Miss" sidebar which takes you to a reasonably complete account of the story, but one that scatters the bits of evidence through the piece and never actually comes out and reaches the obvious conclusion.