16 and Pregnant helps prevent teen births

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics found that the teen birth rate dropped among all groups in 2009, the year that 16 and Pregnant debuted, and a survey reveals that teens say the show has helped them not get pregnant, probably by scaring the bejeezus out of them.

The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy found in a survey that “among those teens who have watched MTV’s 16 and Pregnant, 82% think the show helps teens better understand the challenges of teen pregnancy and parenthood and how to avoid it,” while “most teens (79% of girls and 67% of boys) agree with the statement: ‘When a TV show or character I like deals with teen pregnancy, it makes me think more about my own risk of becoming pregnant/causing a pregnancy and how to avoid it.'”

A National Campaign spokesperson, Bill Albert, told the Christian Science Monitor that “Entertainment media is one of the nation’s favorite punching bags, but we have to acknowledge that when we’re talking about teen pregnancies media can be and often is a force for good, and that is particularly true when it comes to shows like ’16 and Pregnant.’ Some critics say these shows glamorize teen pregnancy, but our survey data shows that’s not the case — that not only do they not glamorize it, but teens who have seen it suggest it makes the realities of teen parenthood more real to them.”

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.