I’ll admit I have watched the show, Teen Mom, more than once. While I was initially drawn in by my curiosity, after watching only a few episodes I found myself feeling really bothered by the show’s drama. I felt like I was watching a documentary that could be compared to Maury.
While some might disagree, I think the show glorifies teenaged mothers and I’m bothered by the fact that MTV is capitalizing on the misfortune of people, especially young women, that have made such a monumental mistake. MTV has been heavily criticized for exactly this reason. On January 17, MTV released a soundtrack of songs by up and coming artists that have been played on Teen Mom. From now until June 17, the proceeds from the soundtrack will go towards the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. While I think it’s great that MTV will be donating to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, I truly believe this is a publicity stunt by and I see this as MTV’s attempt to redeem itself for exploiting the horrible situations the Teen Moms are in.
The idea behind Teen Mom is to show the severity of the situation that arises when a teenaged girl gets pregnant, as well as how to prevent teen pregnancy. According to Sarah Brown, CEO of The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, “research makes it clear that Teen Mom helps young people better understand the challenges of teen pregnancy and parenthood and how to avoid it.” I think the intention of the show is genuine and much-needed in today’s society. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy has estimated that over 700,000 teenaged girls get pregnant each year and one in ten children are born to teenaged mothers. While there has been a decline in teen pregnancy, the United States still has the highest rate in the world.
I agree with Sarah Brown in that Teen Mom depicts what we don’t normally see: how the plans a teenager has for her future are completely destroyed when she gets pregnant. However, I have a few disbeliefs in the show’s effectiveness and the intentions of MTV. It’s hard for me to see how the show prevents teen pregnancy when the girls in Teen Mom are frequently shown in tabloids such as US Magazine. I don’t understand how the show teaches us to prevent pregnancy because it doesn’t give us any information, it just scares us into being more careful. However, some of the girls on the show used contraception and were careful but still got pregnant. How does that show us how to prevent pregnancy?
As a college aged girl, I am constantly changing what I want for my future. Today I had my first Constitutional Law class and I have already decided to add Law School to my long, ever-changing list of possible endeavors. I don’t think I am the only girl in the world to be so incredibly excited for my future. For me, the idea that one night, one mistake could take that away from me is reason enough to be careful. I don’t need an MTV drama to show me how teen pregnancy destroys a girl’s future.
Ashley is a freshman at George Washington University and she’s majoring in Overanalyzing Situations and International Affairs. Follow her on twitter @ashleybrooks25.