Over the past few years, teenage pregnancy has become a major concern that presents itself all too frequently, constantly affecting young girls. But just how many girls are being affected?
In the United States, where there is a high rate of teenage pregnancy, 750,000 girls will or have become pregnant in this year alone.
Family background, religion and surroundings are all influences that have contributed to the shocking statistic that four out of 10 girls will become pregnant before the age of 20. However, there is one influence that I believe has undeniable power: the media.
Every moment, it seems as though a new message has been embedded with no chance for anyone to utter a word. With such an incredibly advanced and heavily present media, it is only natural to wonder if media is the major influence of teen pregnancy. Personally, I believe that television has the most impact.
Television has been making its rounds in creating teen pregnancy shows such as The Secret Life of the American Teenager, 90210, 16 and Pregnant and the popular film, Juno. Each show revolves around or closely touches the delicate subject of teenage pregnancy. With so many shows that focus on pregnancy with youth, many have come to this question: Is teenage pregnancy being glorified?
Some have concluded yes. Many believe these shows lack the “Three C’s” that are crucial with teen pregnancy: Commitment, Contraceptives and Consequences.
First-year student Emily Ahmert explains how in recent years the relationship between media and teenage pregnancy has changed. “It’s showing more of the negative side,” Ahmert said. Years ago, the media would have avoided the issue of teenage pregnancy on any show, let alone those specifically targeting teenagers.
First-year Leah Miller said teen pregnancy “is more okay to talk about” in the media now than it was ever before. Not many jaws dropped when the public saw Amy Juergens, the 15-year-old character on The Secret Life of the American Teenager, waddle around as a pregnant high school student, because for many students this story line is reality.
Some argue that television programs revolving around teenage pregnancy are sending unrealistic messages. Though there is truth in this opinion, it is important to remember that television is not reality. Seemingly, some believe that if the topic of teenage pregnancy is merely discussed, it is automatically portraying negativity.
However, in the shows previously mentioned, the teens featured have been hit hard with the effects of teenage pregnancy. Is that not the reality for most teenage parents? With television being so influential, it is possible for young girls viewing those struggles to choose a different road.
Negative topics can be used to influence the viewers to make better choices. However, no media can portray what it is truthfully like to be a teenage parent. Only the 750,000 girls this year will honestly know.