by intern Andy M.
MTV is launching a new reality TV series entitled 16 And Pregnant, premiering June 11.
According to Hot Indie News:
MTV16.jpg

16 & Pregnant will follow the lives of teenage girls for 5-7 months as they navigate the unfamiliar territory and uncertainty of being pregnant. MTV was able to capture every moment and reaction in real time, including some of the births and how the young mothers and fathers deal with new parenthood. The series tackles a variety of issues including marriage, adoption, attending school, and dealing with gossip. Cameras will continue to follow the teens for a significant time after the births to show how the new parents cope with taking care of their infants in addition to balancing adult responsibilities with teenage life….


The series has been produced in association with The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy (TNC), which is a pro-contraception organization that also has a bit of time for abstinence education.
On a cursory glance, TNC appears to be reaching out to teens with a positive and powerful message.
Sarah Brown, CEO of TNC, is excited about the show, and in an interview with UPI.com, said:

We applaud MTV for using their unique and compelling style of storytelling to bring this important programming to their devoted audience. The show provides an honest portrayal of the challenges of too-early pregnancy and parenthood. The stories in 16 & Pregnant are full of hope, heartbreak, and real-life consequences and should be a must viewing for teens nationwide.

Reading between the lines, however, the message may not be as positive as it first appears. Will the underlying thrust of the series be “do whatever it takes to make sure you don’t get pregnant”? How much emphasis will there be on the negative aspects of pregnancy and motherhood? While abortion may not be openly promoted as an option, it may well be promoted subliminally by listing all the reasons why being pregnant is so hard for a young girl who’s not ready to be a mother. Will the adoption option be presented in a positive light, or as a solution fraught with difficulties and trauma?
The show may make use of one, or both of the following messages: “You don’t want to get pregnant,” and “You are not ready to be a mother yet.” The first is a good message, however it is unlikely the show will present this message as well as it could. Rather than discussing the moral and psychological aspects of sex outside of marriage, it is more likely to focus on the use of contraceptives to avoid getting pregnant. The second message is the most concerning. It applies to girls whether they are pregnant or not, impressing upon them the importance that they do not become mothers. For girls taking in this message, it will seem that they have no choice but to abort their babies if they wish to move on with life.
Some will criticize MTV for “invading” the private lives of these girls, but this is not a fair assessment. In this globalized and fast-paced world, many young people are missing out on receiving advice on such matters from their parents. TNC reports that 700k teenage girls in the US become pregnant each year. TV programs such as this one could be effective in helping to reverse this awful trend.
We will have to wait and see.
View the trailer below:

As an aside, it looks like Pregnancy Help Online has made the most of the upcoming TV series by creating a crisis pregnancy website, 16andPregnant.com.
[Photo attribution: MTV.com]

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