“In 2012, there were 29.4 births for every 1,000 adolescent females ages 15-19, or 305,420 babies born to females in this age group” (Hamilton). Teenage pregnancies were once regarded as normal. Women were once expected to be married and have a family at a young age to ensure lifelong stability. In modern times, teenage pregnancy is considered a taboo subject. MTV began a reality television show in 2009 that popularized pregnancy amongst adolescent females. There are many factors that add to the risk of becoming pregnant during adolescent years, but glamorizing the subject has shown to be the top reason.
While it is true that statistical trends have declined over time within teen pregnancy, but glamorization of the subject has increased. According to the OAH, “roughly 40% of females in the U.S. will become pregnant before their 20th birthdays.”(OAH) “Half of these pregnant teens give birth each year, while around 45% receive abortions. Around 85% of these pregnancies are unplanned and 7.2% do not receive medical care.”(OAH) Teen pregnancy has become a trend in the United States. The widely viewed MTV franchises, 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom, showcase the lives of pregnant teenagers during the end of their pregnancies and their days of motherhood. While the show advocates for the use of contraception and abstinence, there is still much speculation as to whether or not this is helping or harming society. The NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health reports that
“16 and Pregnant led to more searches and tweets regarding birth control and abortion, and ultimately led to a 5.7 percent reduction in teen births in the 18 months following its introduction. This accounts for around one-third of the overall decline in teen births in the United States during that period.” (Kearney and Levine)
Evidence shows that the show has affected teenagers positively, but also negatively. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy has made claims about these shows “glamorizing teen pregnancy and parenting” altogether. They have also said that this could be more sobering than harmful to the teens who watch the show. Individuals that showed criticism to the show include the Parents Television Council. Stated in a 2011 commentary for CNN, the council’s Melissa Henson has made it clear that she feels some adolescents might see the show and get the idea that becoming pregnant could possibly earn the female a spot on the show, and gain her ticket to fame and fortune. When asked to comment about the report’s findings, Henson claims the research information is very intriguing, and if the show did add to declining birth rates, that’s not a bad thing. Henson is very skeptical of the research information though. She has made claims that the show glamorizes pregnancy and plays up “staged drama” too much to be believable.
MTV hosts a large variety of television shows that speculate the lives of “every day average” people. 16 and Pregnant and its sequel, Teen Mom,...