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The society we live in today has been greatly hit by the cases of teen pregnancy. This subject has been portrayed as being acceptable by the society. This has caused the rates of the teen pregnancy to greatly increase as more gals continue to become teenage moms with each passing day. These results are largely due to the influence of the media on the young teenagers. The media is the major source of exposure for the teenagers who spend nearly half their day glued to the screens in their living rooms. Most of these adolescents end up developing an attitude towards what they see on TV. They think that they too can do whatever is popular on the television and by doing so they end up aping the wrong messages that are passed across on the television networks. This attitude has resulted in a growing trend of young teenage mothers. There has not been enough TV shows explaining the consequences of these actions and teenagers find themselves in dilemmas. The difficulty and big responsibility that come along with parenthood have more often than once proved to be a hard task to the teenagers who are not ready for it. However, Music Television, MTV, has come up with programs that air out these difficulties in teen pregnancy and parenthood. They have produced a reality shows on this subject; 16 and pregnant, and Teen Mom.
"16 & Pregnant" is an intimate reality show that looks inside the lives of pregnant teenagers. It focuses on the challenges that come along with being a young parent. The show shows how the teenagers are faced with the responsibility of dealing with new relationships, finances and school all at the same time. Six young women who are going through tremendous life changing experiences have got their lives followed in the program. The challenges that they face are laid out in the open throughout the entire program with each episode telling a new thing everyday. The other hit series on MTV, "Teen Mom" may be easily termed as the scared straight version of teen pregnancy prevention. The program also focuses on following the lives of the young teenage mothers, highlighting the challenges that they face like obtaining their GEDs and going to college (Smith, 2010). It goes on to air the child support hearings and even adoptions by the teen parents who find themselves not capable of handling the pressure they are under. The two reality shows, "16 & Pregnant" and "Teen Mom", have both been designed to stop the rising rates of adolescents becoming mothers. However, this new program does not have the backing of all of its audience. Not everybody is in agreement that the production of these programs is in the best interest of preventing teen pregnancy. This argument provides the thesis for my paper as it leaves the question,
"Do the programs 16 & Pregnant and Teen Mom promote or prevent teen pregnancy?"
While some people may argue that these programs make the young pregnant girls celebrities and that it encourages the teenage girls seeking fame to become pregnant, the major theme behind the shows is to stop teenage pregnancy. These two programs have played a major role in highlighting the facts behind teenage pregnancy. According to results from previous research, it can be deduced that less than half the number of teen mothers ever graduate from high school. Very few of these teenage mothers ever earn a college degree by the time they get to age 30. The results also show that more than half of all the mothers who are on welfare are those who had their child when they were still teenagers. The children of these mothers also suffer in the hands of the challenges that their parents face. The sons are most likely to end up in prison because of using illegal methods to earn a living due to the harsh conditions that they are living under. The daughters of these teenage mothers are at an even greater risk. They are likely to become teen mothers themselves. These two reality shows have stepped up the campaign for the prevention of teen pregnancy in a big way. The show majorly focuses on the aftermath of these teenage pregnancies. Most of the young girls do not usually know what awaits them on the other side as they engage in sexual activities. The shows educate the teenager about how they will lose out on their teenage years because of engaging in unprotected sex.
The two reality shows take up on the rhetoric style to bring out the theme in the story. While the program provides a great deal of entertainment to its viewers, in the end the moral story is that these actions that seem to bring fame are actually bad and should be stopped. The programs carry with them a lot of teachings with regards to the burden of teen pregnancy. It also portrays the negative aspects of girls who go into motherhood while they are too young. "16 & pregnant" aired episode of a teenage girl called Leah in their first season. This episode brought to light the diseases that the young girls are exposed to when engaging in sex.
Leah was only sixteen when she was impregnated by her boyfriend Corey. In this episode, she retold her story on how she got bladder control issues as a result of her pregnancy with twins at such a tender age. As she recalls and narrates her ordeal and what she has had to deal with, the stories are so depressing and they make the whole teenage pregnancy thing look so miserable. She tells how she missed out on all the major activities that her peers back at school were taking part in as she was busy preparing for her twins' arrival. This episode showcased just how not only unethical but dangerous it is for teenagers who find themselves in motherhood. The show must be applauded for its teachings about the challenges of motherhood and showing real life situations about these challenges. Most of the teenagers do not always take seriously what they are warned about thinking that their parents and guiders are simply stopping them from having "fun". However, what this shows have done is provide that evidence which these young children seek to find before they can be in line with what they are told by their elder ones. These programs are educative and they show scenes that have not been acted as per the script, but rather those which are real and have real stories and narrations. In the aim of providing knowledge and supporting the prevention of teen pregnancy, this stories drive that nail right home.
The people who are so much against the airing of this programs base their argument on the negative effect that they may have on the young teenagers watching them. However, as much as the shows may come out as providing these teenage mothers with screen time and thus make them "celebrities" to the outside world, this is not to be confused for their purpose. When looking into the entertainment industry, "I6 & pregnant" and "Teen Mom" may fall in the same category as the reality shows that highlight the celebrity gossips. This is because the teenagers involved have been put in the spotlight and their stories attract a lot of comments from viewers around the world. They young teenagers who do not recognize the true theme behind the shows always end up being misled. They are young and have got naïve minds which do not reason in a mature way. When these young teenagers see their fellow age-mates being televised on a popular channel that airs on cable network, they too want to have that opportunity to be on the big picture with all the focus. They take it to be the popular thing around and go ahead to want to experiment. However, research has shown that with proper guidance on these programs, these teens actually get to have a sense of direction and draw some teachings from these programs (Inbar, 2010).
I must commend the producers of these programs because at the beginning of each show, they recommend parental guidance on the show. With the proper guidance in place, the teenagers watching the shows are able to understand the importance of being responsible and taking care of themselves and their dreams in their teen years by avoiding teenage pregnancy. While "16 & pregnant" focuses on the challenges that the teenage mothers face while being pregnant, "Teen Mom" places much weight on the challenges that they face after they have had the baby. Most of these young girls are never ready to handle the responsibility of being mothers at such a tender age. MTV came up with this program to show the challenges that these teenage mothers face. The show is very educative as it helps spread the message of prevention of teenage pregnancies as well as provide information on how to deal with the idea of being a teenage mother (Estrella, 2009). Each situation in the episodes of this program shows the teenage girls that in real life, teen pregnancy is not something that they should simply take casually. An example is an episode that featured a young girl called Catelynn.
When she was in Junior high, she had a baby but was not ready yet for motherhood. Thus, she had no choice but to put her baby up for adoption. The guilt that she carries with her for putting up her child for adoption is unbearable as she is constantly dealing with the resentment from her parents. Her ordeal does not end there. She was not able to graduate on time because there was a lot that she missed out on while she was pregnant. This specific episode sought to reveal the way young girls suffer because of their actions sexually. Most of the young girls think that putting up a baby for adoption is an easy thing and that they can get rid of their worries in that simple manner. However, Catelynn's story tells it all differently. The guilt that the mother carries is with her during her entire lifetime. To think that she could have had a chance to provide her child with a better life and watch the child grow as she nurtures it to becoming an important aspect of society is a pity. This show thus shows the teen girls the importance of waiting until they are mature enough before they engage in sexual activities that may result in them getting pregnant. In doing so, it helps to spread the message about the prevention of teenage pregnancies (Scindler, 2010).
The entertainment industry has always been popular for airing out the views of people and highlighting the major issues that affect our society. Teenage pregnancies have been on the headlines for a greater part of the past years until the present. A huge number of these teen girls do not achieve their dreams simply because their lives take a big turn from the path that they were on when they start to face their lives as mothers. Their education is distorted and even if they recover in time, still the damage that has already been done cannot be undone and their lives back in school is never the same again. MTV took up the initiative of highlighting this big issue by airing the two reality shows "16 & pregnant" and "Teen Mom". Although there are those who argue that the information that is put forth through these two shows is having a negative effect on the young teens, a larger percentage will agree that the main intended message is driven home. Yes, the program may be providing entertainment on the wrong platform, but as these teenage girls tell their stories and what they have had to go through in life, the message on the burden of being a teenage mom is laid down very clearly. The facts about teenage pregnancy, its effects and the responsibilities that come along with it are aired in these shows and they provide very important education on the subject at hand. In the campaign for the prevention of teenage pregnancies, these shows being aired by MTV have done a marvelous job in spreading the message.
The thesis statement for my paper was "Do the programs 16 & Pregnant and Teen Mom promote or prevent teen pregnancy?"
Considering all the facts stated above in my argument, I can confidently be positive about my thesis statement. These two reality shows help prevent teen pregnancy. They encourage the spread of the campaign aimed at eradicating the issue of teen pregnancy and the broadcasting of these two shows should continue as it is classy rather than trashy.