by TyLisa Johnson of the Born For Greatness Youth Writing Program
Your heart is pounding as you’re rushed to the hospital with a bloody nose and a black eye. The right side of your face feels scolding hot, like it’s burning off, and you are forced to think about all the choices that lead you to this point. A physical altercation with your mom is the reason for your hospital visit, and you feel completely alone. You had a baby at sixteen and the father of your child was recently killed in a car accident. You were even denied social security benefits for your baby, Sophia because his mom reported that she isn’t sure if her son would have claimed Sophia, even though the DNA test confirmed that he was Sophia’s father. Everything feels so real, and it’s all on your mind at once. Not to mention you need to finish school, you’re trying to pursue a modeling career, and be happy too. Maybe this is all too real for Farrah, a teenager featured on the MTV reality television shows “16 & Pregnant” and “Teen Mom”.
Although the story above may sound fictitious, these were real events in the life of Farrah, filmed for the world to see. Farrah was one of the original girls on the first season of “16 & Pregnant” and she is now featured on the new MTV reality hit show “Teen Mom”. Some believe that shows such as, “16 & Pregnant,” and “Teen Mom,” glamorize teenage pregnancy. However, Farrah’s story is one of the reasons why I believe shows such as “16 & Pregnant” and “Teen Mom” do not glamorize teenage pregnancy.
While the cameras are rolling the girls on these reality t.v shows experience challenges that most teenagers couldn’t even fathom. The dramatic scenes are not cut, but in fact, they are highlighted, to show the viewers how hard life can be when you become a teenage parent. In most of the episodes something devastating happens. There may be financial hardship, academic challenges, and arguments seem to be inevitable on every episode. Some may even argue that the television producers highlight the drama to increase viewer ratings. However, the challenges faced by these girls are still real, not scripted. On the shows they do try to provide a balance by showing the viewers both the good and bad moments going on in lives of these young mothers’. However, the negative occurrences are more prominent, and have a greater impact on the viewers. I know personally, when I watch “Teen Mom” I am always shocked by the fighting and drama that occurs in the lives of these teens.
I think shows such as “16 & Pregnant” and “Teen Mom” have the potential to prevent teenage pregnancy by showing viewers real life consequences. MTV has been credited for the drop in teen pregnancy rates. According to a new government study, U.S. Teen birth rates dropped in 2009 when the shows started to air. A report by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy recognizes the show”16 and Pregnant,” by stating that 82 percent of teenagers credit the hit show in helping them understand the challenges that come with unexpected parenthood. Of course there are many factors that contribute to teenage pregnancy. However the MTV reality programs attempt to educate teenagers on the difficult challenges that come with teen parenting, which may cause them to become more conscious of their actions and practice prevention methods. The reality is that having a baby requires much more than just wanting someone to love.