Are we glamorizing teen moms?
The harsh realities shown on MTV’s 16 and Pregnant, Teen Mom, and VH1’s Dad Camp should help lower the teen pregnancy rate. But do they?
Many experts applaud these shows for their painfully honest portrayal of the challenges and hardships that these young people face. Parents watch with their kids to open up a dialogue about abstinence, safe sex, birth control and domestic violence. But critics say there is a downside to these exploitative series, too.
Farrah. Maci. Catelynn. Amber. We know these teens by name. We see them not only on TV but also on the covers of magazines, entertainment blogs and pretty much everywhere we look. Their celebrity status rivals that of any rock star. The bad decisions these teens made have been rewarded with fame and attention.
There's a concern that impressionable young girls will want to emulate these pretty girls who get as much exposure as Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato and Angelina Jolie.
So the question is this: Do these shows send a confusing message to teen girls?
"As the author of Planet Pregnancy, a novel about a pregnant 16-year-old girl, I believe shows such as these can warn kids of the difficulties of being a struggling teen mom." -- Linda Oatman
"My daughter and I watch Teen Mom together. She is 13, and I feel it's never too early to talk about these topics. The shows prove my point that she doesn't want to make stupid mistakes, no matter what kind of relationship she has with a boy." -- Angie
"My 18-year-old daughter has watched these shows since they started. We've talked about how hard it is to take care of children. She has always said, 'I could never do it' and 'I don't want kids until after I finish college and start my career.'" -- Lisa
"As a psychotherapist and teen coach, these are positive tools to use with my clients. The titles make adults uncomfortable, but the shows show teens that pregnant life is not glamorous. The pregnant girls seem miserable! I can't say if these shows prevent teen pregnancy, but they do open a door for conversation between teens and parents." -- Didi Zahariedes
"If a girl has a stable home life -- a solid foundation and relationship with her parents -- then this type of reality TV does not affect them in a negative way. My daughters and I are in agreement: after watching these shows, none of them wants to run out and get pregnant. However…"
"…if a girl's home life and relationship with her parents are shaky, shows like this may influence her to take on a responsibility she is in no way ready for in order to get the love and attention she's not getting at home." -- Laura J. Wellington and daughters Jacqueline, 15, Emma, 13, and Isabel, 11.
"Putting these teen moms on magazine covers is a bad thing. Glammed up in fine clothing, the best makeup, good lighting and child in hand like some adorable ornament, these moms send the message that having a baby may lead to fame. How many young people striving to be famous will join a legion of girls who want to do what it takes to be plucked from obscurity and given fame, money, and a television series." -- Ellen Pober Rittberg, author of 35 Things Your Teen Wont Tell You So I Will
Where do you stand on this issue? Do these reality shows have a positive, negative, or no affect on the teen pregnancy rate?