According to some, MTV’s “16 and Pregnant” and shows like it glamorize teen pregnancy. And, while I completely disagree with this statement (more about this later), I can say that it has influenced some positive changes across the country, particularly public schools.
Even though pregnancy rates have declined by 37 percent, with increases noted only between 2005 and 2007, schools still claim that more teens are getting pregnant. This is likely due to the fact that schools continue to increase the number of students in their school, thereby raising their student body, which increases the number of pregnant teens in their schools. Regardless of why they are claiming an increase, schools have started to pay more attention to the needs of their pregnant student body.
Schools, like Calumet High in Northwest Indiana, have added a development/parenting course that teens who are expecting or currently have children can take. Patricia Eaton, the teacher that leads the class, discusses the fact that the teens are very open about their sex life, birth control, and the struggles they experience as teen parents.
Community programs, like the one at First Baptist in Hammond, have popped up as well. The First Baptist program attempts to help teen mothers in any way that they can. They offer daycare, classes, and support. LaShaun Boyd, a teen that attended the community program, explained that the program helped her tremendously by giving her the support she needed to graduate and even receive a scholarship to college.
In my opinion, this is exactly the community support that the show “16 and Pregnant” hoped to spark. I myself was a teen mother. My parents didn’t discuss sex with me and the class offered in school was a 30 minute movie that talked more about the reproductive part of how a baby is made. There was very little mentioned about safe sex and pregnancy prevention.
Before researching this story, I had never taken the time to watch the show being criticized by critics like Calumet High Principal Tim Pivarnik. The story made me wonder if there really was a show on television that actually glorified teen pregnancy. So I spent time watching three different episodes.
What I saw were the real, honest, intimate struggles of three teenage couples. They discussed the difficulty of their decision and what it meant for their future. I was amazed at the fact that a couple of the teens really took the time to understand and question what was best for not only their future but the future of their babies.
There were cute baby moments, yes. But, for the most part, you heard the real story of teen pregnancy. You watched mothers get up every two hours to feed their infants. You then watched them get up for school. You even saw how having a baby impacted their friendships and relationships. There was nothing glorified about it.
Having a baby is a glorious event, when you are ready. I would not change having or keeping my son. I would, however, wait until I was older. I had the privilege of living in a home full of pregnant teens. I was offered moral support. I received a ton of education about car seat safety, breastfeeding, night feedings, and more. I also watched many of the moms struggle, including me. I watched some deal with serious health problems. I even held a micropreemie that had a heart condition. That baby was born to a 14 year old mother. I know the realities that are discussed on “16 and Pregnant.” Trust me, the stories, struggles, and impact of a teen pregnancy is in no way glorified or exaggerated. The program even gives a message in the middle of the program that directs teens to a website about teen pregnancy prevention. I am unsure of why the show is receiving such a great deal of criticism.
Raising a child at a young age is difficult. Giving birth is painful. Figuring out how to work your life around an infant is scary. And the impact lasts much longer than the next few years. Nothing in your life is ever the same. I commend shows like “16 and Pregnant” for bringing awareness to a real situation and for bringing support that has been much needed for teens.
- Memphis Begins Campaign To Reduce Teen Pregnancies
- 14 Year-Olds Become Britain’s Youngest Parents
- Report: 10-Year-Old Gives Birth in Spain