Editorial, Opinion

EDIT: Reality TV does not glamorize teen pregnancy or parenting

he best way to glamorize a lifestyle is give it airtime on television. Watching people drink and flirt on reality TV romanticizes a partying lifestyle, making mistakes like blacking out humorous. This logic falls short for MTV shows like “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom,” according to a United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. Since 1991, teen birth rates have dropped by two-thirds, and the CDC claims reality shows about teenage parents are partly responsible.

The report states that in 1991, 38.6 percent of teens aged 15-to-17 became pregnant. Recently, in 2012, that number has shrunk to 14.1 percent. The report addresses teen pregnancy rates in states with less access to birth control methods and education. The CDC found that states with less comprehensive sexual education, meaning schools with abstinence-only programs, yielded the highest number of teen pregnancies.

“We are missing opportunities to deliver messages before teens begin to have sex,” Lee Warner of the CDC’s division of reproductive health told NBC News in a story published Tueday.

To control teen pregnancy rates, Mississippi organizations are focusing on the frequency in which teenagers have sex instead of how often teens bear children or contract an STD. Back in 2011, Mississippi lawmakers passed legislation, mandating schools to only offer abstinence-only classes. Parents must opt-in for their child to take the courses. The sexes are also separate.

Mississippifirst.org claims that the only way to lower the number of teenagers having sex before graduating high school is to remove “abstinence-plus” programs. The problem in the state is not the number of sexually active teens; it is how often a sexually active teen’s life is affected by their lack of education.

With such programs clearly producing poor results, reality TV shows are proving to be more effective at convincing teens to use contraception methods. With this deliberate and sincere attempt to forego education children, there is no wonder that the CDC has found that “16 and Pregnant” is a better teacher than shame-based sexual education classes.

The existence of these shows serves the public more than it is given credit for. People who decide to carry through with a pregnancy have a reference for the possible outcomes of their pregnancy. Those who actually decide to get pregnant to be on a show like “Teen Mom” are most obviously the fringe group. Exposing the daily difficulties of teen pregnancy and parenthood will serve as birth control for those who do not necessarily have access to comprehensive sexual education.

MTV broadcasts sexually progressive shows that confront sexual issues head-on. While “Teen Mom” has its beautiful mother-child moments, it shows the hardest parts of raising children. It very frankly describes the realities of teen pregnancy and it causes people to readdress their choices when it comes to sex.

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