July 1, 2008

Teen Pregnancy Hits the Small Screen

Last week we were inundated with the supposed pregnancy pact made by teens in Gloucester, MA that turned out to be false. We're all wigged out because the latest stats show an increase in teen births (girls 15-19) from 40.5 births per 1,000 in 2005 to 41.9 births per 1,000 in 2006 (thanks to the Guttmacher Institute for the stats). BTW births increased for all women during this time period.

Everyone is quick to blame Juno and Knocked Up for what University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill professor Jane Brown, calls "The Juno Effect."

Professor Brown runs the Teen Media Project and said:

It may have had a kind of agenda-setting effect, and that's what may have happened with 'Juno,' 'Knocked Up' and the celebrity baby-bump watch we're on -- all that is glamorized pregnancy...
Two new shows on teen pregnancy are on the air this summer, one The Secret Life of an American Teenager starts tonight on ABC Family. Molly Ringwald stars as the mom of a "good girl" who gets knocked up. (I still can't believe that Molly Ringwald is playing a mom on TV.) The other show the Baby Borrowers on NBC gives teens babies so they can understand what it's like to be parents.

I remember the good old days of my youth when they gave kids on TV fake babies or even eggs to show how hard it is to be a parent. The Secret Life comes from Brenda Hampton the creator of 7th Heaven. Hampton gave this quote about the show: "I don't have anything to say about the issue of teen pregnancy," Hampton said. "I'm just telling a story about a girl who happens to get pregnant."

Note to Brenda: that's a completely disingenuous quote. I'm not for blaming the culture for teen pregnancy or anything else but I truly believe that it is a part of the issue. TV shows and movies shouldn't take all the responsibility, but people, especially kids, are so influenced by the culture that by shrugging your shoulders and saying I'm not saying anything about teen pregnancy is bunk.

Baby' and 'Secret Life' explore teen taboo (Hollywood Reporter)