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Report: MTV’s “16 & Pregnant” Decreased Teen Pregnancy Rate

( [email protected] ) Jan 15, 2014 01:57 PM EST
MTV's reality show "16 & Pregnant" may be the reason for the recent decline in teen pregnancies according to a new research report by professors Melissa S. Kearney and Phillip B. Levine. The show that has led to the "Teen Mom" spin-offs, documents the hardships of young teens who become mothers early on and the dramatic changes that forces them to transition from kids to adults rapidly.
Original "teen moms" of the very first season of "16 & Pregnant." (Photo courtesy of MTV)

MTV's reality show "16 & Pregnant" may be the reason for the recent decline in teen pregnancies according to a new research report by professors Melissa S. Kearney and Phillip B. Levine. The show that has led to the "Teen Mom" spin-offs, documents the hardships of young teens who become mothers early on and the dramatic changes that forces them to transition from kids to adults rapidly.

Despite numerous seasons and popularity among the female demographic, both "16 & Pregnant" and its spin-off "Teen Mom" have received controversy from many viewers who have accused the MTV shows of glorifying teen pregnancies and the exposing the mothers of the show to mainstream media and fame. Yet a new study shows that the hardships and drama that comes from being a single, teen mother showed otherwise.

The United States, which has one of the "highest [teen pregnancy rates] in the developed world" has declined following the airing of the show. The study reported that in the past four years, the rate has "dropped even more dramatically at a rate of about 7.5% per year." MTV began airing the series first in 2009 and since has documented over five seasons-including the spin-off "Teen Mom" which has all together produced an additional six seasons from its three different installments.

The report showed that the airings of the show led to an increase of questions about birth control to prevent teen pregnancies. The entertainment value of the show comes in forms of light-hearted moments of bonding and family; however, the show documents teen mothers who often give up their social lives and juggle work, school and their child to makes ends meet often mixed with baby daddy drama.

Based on the research, the show's airings and social media research has led to a total of a 5.7 percent drop in teen pregnancies 18-months after the show debuted in June 2009, which accounts for "one-third of the overall decline in teen births in the United States during that period."

The teen moms of the show who have found fame and popularity from the show have also been the center of controversy. Original cast member Farrah Abraham has notoriously created a sex tape with porn star James Deen and clashed infamously with her mother that lead to an arrest. Amber Portwood served one year of her five-year stint in jail after being charged with domestic violence and violation of probation. Jenelle Evans also served multiple stints in jail for charges of drug possession, assault and disturbing the peace on different occasions after having her child.

The exposure to media has led to many questioning whether the show was trying to teach young girls of the consequences of teen pregnancy or give young moms fame and exposure like several cast members. Based on these findings, it would occur that the show's purpose of documenting these consequences have worked efficiently rather than promote fame status. "The results of our analysis indicate that exposure to ‘16 and Pregnant' was high and that it had an influence on teens' thinking regarding birth control and abortion."