Friday, December 31, 2010

Report States that 16 and Pregnant Helps Prevent Teen Births

Can the controversial MTV reality show actually be good for America's teens?

According to Reality Blurred, a report has come out that states that the MTV show 16 and Pregnant is partially responsible for the current decreased teen pregnancy rate.

Reportedly, teen pregnancy dropped significantly in 2009, the year that 16 and Pregnant premiered. Additionally, a survey by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy found that a high percentage of teens stated that the show helps them understand the challenges of teen pregnancy. It also noted that teens are better able to understand what it would be like if they got pregnant, based on seeing what the teens on the show go through.

While I can see how this information could be reported (if you survey teens who watch and enjoy the show 16 and Pregnant), I am absolutely not ready to credit it with significantly reducing the teen pregnancy rate. Here's why:

- Word came out that Amber Portwood, a star of 16 and Pregnant and the sequel Teen Mom, makes $280,000 a year. So, let me get this straight. A girl who gets knocked up and hits her boyfriend is awarded with fame and fortune? If that's not glorifying teen pregnancy, I don't know what to think.

- Being a pregnant teen gives teens something to aspire to: television stardom. I am absolutely not saying that 16 and Pregnant encourages teen pregnancy, but I wouldn't flip this the other way and say it prevents it, either. (This is similar to how I feel about the Forever 21 maternity clothing line.)

- Other factors have also been reported to positively affect teen pregnancy. For example, the economy has also been cited as a reason for the reduction. A decrease in the overall fertility rate has also been noted as a factor.

I'm not saying that 16 and Pregnant doesn't scare teens out of pregnancy. I'm sure it does. I'm also sure that it has convinced some teens to be more careful about pregnancy. However, I don't think we can truly attribute a significant reduction in US teen pregnancies to the MTV reality show.

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