The Ghost of Teen Mom’s Future

Sederk Kovar

For the second time, the newest season
of MTV’s hit show “16 and Pregnant”
will feature a young girl from the
Richmond area. Many cries of outrage
have stemmed from countless Central
Virginians who say that it will set a bad
standard for local teens. While this may
appear to be a concern, parents
should really
be thankful for
the effect that
it is having on
teenagers across
the nation.
According to
the National Bureau
of Economic
Research, in the
first 18 months
that the show premiered,
there was
a 5.7% decrease in
the teenage pregnancy
rate. Over the
past four years, there
has been an approximate
30% reduction in
teen births.
To the surprise of many, teen pregnancy
has been on the decline for quite
a while. From 1991 to 2008 the number
of teen pregnancies has declined by
about 2.5% per year. Since the show
aired in 2009, that reduction has grown
to approximately 7.5% per year.
Even though it may have caused
an exponential decrease in teen pregnancies
in the last four years, many
women’s health professionals say that
the show dramatizes a mother’s everyday
life. Parents Television
Council Director Melissa Henson
wrote on CNN’s website,
“Instead of really helping
viewers understand the dayto-
day responsibilities of
attending to a new infant
— scrubbing poop stains or
spit-up out of clothing — or
dwelling on the ‘mundane,’
MTV chooses to focus on the
girls’ volatile relationships with
the babies’ fathers or their
new body piercings and tattoos.”
While the show has
created plenty of controversy,
it is hard to argue
with the numbers.
“Personally, I hate ’16 and Pregnant.’
It’s gross to think that trash like that
has become popular. However, I guess
it’s good for teens to see how terrible
everything is when you are a teenage
mom because it scares everyone,” senior
Rachel McLaughlin said.
Other health professionals agree,
saying that the show portrays motherhood
in an undesirable fashion. This, in
combination with the stress of the relationships,
encourages youth to engage
in safer practices.
Some economists say that a large portion
of this decrease has been caused by
the recession. According to them, birth
rates of all types fall during times of economic
hardship, and the study may not
have fully considered that. If such were
the case, it does not completely invalidate
the argument, but it may suggest
the impact of the show might not be as
large as many put it out to be.
Regardless of which theory one believes
in, it is generally accepted that the
show does more good than harm. That
being said, parents always have and will
play the biggest role in a teen’s life, so it
is important to teach children about the
dangers associated with early pregnancies
and encourage safe practices.

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Author: The Hawk Eye

Hanover High School, Mechanicsville, Virginia The Hawk Eye Student Newspaper thehawkeye@hcps.us

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