Comment permalink

Movies and TV Shows Need a More Realistic Portrayal of Teen Pregnancy

Seventeen Magazine had a great article on the discrepancies between the realitites of teen motherhood and pregnancy and what is portrayed in television shows and movies. The article cited a study which found that many teen girls find the idea of becoming a mom kind of glamorous because of how teen motherhood is displayed in shows like "Teen Mom" and movies such as "Juno".

The reality, of course, is strikingingly different for young moms. Most do not marry or even stay with the fathers of their children and a majority of young mothers don't even finish high school, which limits their employment options in the future. As a result, many single moms work low-paying jobs while meeting the needs of their babies.

Not every teen mom is as fortunate as the high-wage earning Bristol Palin or has the free time she seems to have (LINK to a NY Bristol sighting HERE.) The Seventeen article told real stories from young mothers of the troubles that they face as teen moms; one young mom talked about waking up in the middle of the night with baby vomit in her hair, and another young mother talked about dropping out of school so she could have time to work and earn enough to pay for her baby.

Another difference between the depiction of pregnancy and teen sex in movies and tv shows is the lack of or dearth of birth control and abortion as options for teenagers. Both are seldom discussed or even mentioned in movies or in tv shows. The discussion of both in tv shows could have a dramatic impact on the choices that teenagers make.

A recent Tyra Banks episode featured "shocking" statistics relating to teen sex; more and more teenagers are having sex at younger and younger ages- teens have sex at an average age of fifteen.  It's fairly obvious that the abstinence education taught under the Bush Administration was a dismal failure in terms of the number of teen pregnancies. Introducing contraception as an alternative to abstinence is necessary- while most teenagers know about condoms, they are poorly educated about other methods and the effectiveness of the so-called "withdrawal method".

Parents are also a good source of information about teen pregnancies and sex, but most teens get their sex education from other teens who in turn get their knowlege (or lack thereof) from tv and movies. I know that tv and movies are designed as entertainment and not as after-school specials, but sex and pregnancy should be portrayed in more realistic terms.