Guest Author - Dominique Jordan
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2009 over 400,000 infants were born to 15−19 year olds. With a great number of teenage girls becoming pregnant every year, it's clearly evident that this once taboo topic has quickly become mainstream and even socially accepted. Television shows, magazines, and even movies have touched on the subject of teen pregnancy. But even with the representation of teenagers who are pregnant on the small screen and in print, what is the overall message that media outlets are trying to portray? Are they telling us that it's okay to be a pregnant female under the age of 21? Are they saying that every girl should have a baby as her latest and most fashionable accessory? Or is the message they're trying to convey a little bit more hidden than that? Throughout this article, we will explore the impact that pregnancy has on modern teenagers and examine just where the media stands on this matter.
For years shows like The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Teen Mom, Degrassi: The Next Generation, and 16 and Pregnant have displayed situations where young, teenage girls have become pregnant. Movies like Juno have also shown the challenges young teens face when they are pregnant. By doing this, various networks are displaying the types of challenges that are usually associated with young women who have endured these types of situations. In these shows, the young women first endure the shock of realizing that they are pregnant. The girls then struggle with the decision of whether or not to tell their parents the news (after they've told their friends of course). Finally, they endure the nine months of hormone changes, a shift in societal pressures, and a difference in responsibility. But one thing that these shows have in common is the honesty that is displayed within them. Throughout each and every one of these shows like Teen Mom and The Secret Life, the young girls and their boyfriends express vulnerability unlike anything they've ever felt before. It is a vulnerability that only comes when a human being realizes that their life is about to change forever, and this vulnerability is clearly shown whenever these young teens experience one of the many challenges that coincide with teen pregnancy. This is an example of how the media uses programs like these in order to educate our youth about the modern-day disadvantages of teen pregnancy.
In the end, teen pregnancy can be prevented by throwing away the stigma surrounding sex and education. By being involved and educating young people about pregnancy, adults can pave the way toward a bright future for their teens.