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HLSC 119 Community Health Education

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HLSC 119 Community Health Education Question Describe Reality TV Shows Portray Responsible Messages about Teen Pregnancy ? Answer Reality Television Shows And Teen Pregnancy Introduction The social issue of teenage pregnancy is not new in today’s world of increased sexuality and sexual liberty among youngsters. Teenage or adolescent pregnancy refers to the occurrence of conception or pregnancy in females who are below the age of 20 years (Secura et al., 2014). Amidst a backdrop of reductions in the rates of teenage pregnancy since 2015, there has been a recent surge in the media transmission of adolescent pregnancy in the form of various reality shows being cast all over the United States. The emergence of such teenage pregnancy reality shows on television have increasingly led to debates concerning the message reflected through such telecast on the sensitive issue of teenage pregnancy (Kearney & Levine, 2015). The following paragraphs of the report aim to discuss whether television reality shows display responsible messages about teenage pregnancy. This report argues that despite the sensitive nature of the content displayed, such reality television shows display messages of responsibility concerning the issue of teenage pregnancy. Discussion: Main Findings  Despite the increased advances in science, technology and exposure to educational material, the issue of teenage pregnancy continues to remain an issue of considerable social taboo where young girls or ‘mothers’ were compelled to thrive beneath a veil of shame as a consequence of their misdeed. Hence, the airing of reality television shows such as ’16 and Pregnant’ and ‘Teen Mom’ in the United States resulted in a public outpour of criticism and anger. Social critics deemed the telecasting of such shows, as exploitative, discriminatory and harmful, since such broadcasts were viewed as glorifying and publicizing an emotional and sensitive social issue. Such reality shows were accused to add fuel to the fire of an already pressing problem among young girls (Molborn, 2017). However, the results yielded surprising outcomes, completely the opposite of what was expected. The reality television series ’16 and Pregnant’, displayed the lives of six teenage girls who were pregnant, in the hope of disseminating the troubles associated with teenage pregnancy. Within four years of its broadcasting, as observed by the Centers of Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), the rates of teenage pregnancy have witnesses gradual decline since the year 1991, to about 44% throughout nine years. The rates of teenage pregnancy were recorded to be an extremely low rate of 34.3 births per 1000 teenage girls within the years 2009 and 2010. In the year 2015, the rates have witnessed an ultimate decline, recording 22.3 births per 1000 girls within the age group of 15 to 19 years, as recorded by the CDC. Hence, considering the simultaneous occurrence of such telecasts and the teenage pregnancy rate decline, it can be speculated that teenage pregnancy reality shows are disseminating messages concerning the importance of undertaking responsible actions for the purpose of pregnancy prevention during adolescence (Martins et al., 2016). Such reality television shows, project the life and hardships overcome my young girls inflicted with pregnancy, which have the capability to influence teenage girls on the various hurdles brought about by being pregnancy hence resulting in them compelled to undertake responsible behavior for the purpose of prevention of the same. Further, upon every broadcast of the show ‘16 and Pregnant’, MTV engages in the promotion of a website, ‘’, which deals with provision of information concerning birth control methods, sexually transmitted diseases and abuses associated with dating (Martins & Jensen, 2014). However, ‘Media Research Center’, an organization concerned with evaluating the viewer appropriateness of various television shows, conducted a review of ’16 and Pregnant’, and was of the view that reality shows dealing with teenage pregnancy were doing little but glorifying such a sensitive issue, since the girls who were starring in the series encountered celebrity stardom within a short span of time upon broadcast. The review considered that such shows were disseminating messages of teenage pregnancy as a way by which teenage girls could garner attention and fame while still studying in high schools (Flynn et al., 2015). However, MTV considered these criticisms and engaged in releasing a sequel to the above show, that is ‘Teen Mom’, which now emphasized more on the serious issues of childbearing after the celebratory phase of pregnancy was over. A regular show of the series focused on the financial constraints faced by such young mothers, the conflicts with their partners who had probably abandoned them after conception, conflicts with their parents, peers as well as the troubles encountered during educational degree completion and other recreational social activities, due to the disturbance of normal life as a resultant of teenage pregnancy (Trudeau, 2016). Hence, the hardships of reality reflected in such shows, influence teenage girls to undertake precautions while engaging in sexual relationships, further resulting in the gradual drop in the rates of teenage pregnancy. Hence, the projection of the lives of young girls inflicted with pregnancy, in the form of reality television shows, result in the projection of messages of responsibility to the public population engaged in their viewing (Aubrey,  Behm-Morawitz & Kim, 2014). Conclusion Hence, to conclude, despite the increased rates of criticism associated with the projections of such shows, it can be concluded that reality television series engaging in the projection of teenage pregnancy and the experiences associated with it, result in the dissemination of messages reflecting responsibility concerning the issue. The telecasting of shows such as ‘Teen Mom’ and ’16 and Pregnant’, reflect the lives and struggles of the female adolescents who have undergone pregnancy, hence, serving as an influence for teenage girls who are viewing, to engage in precautionary steps of birth control, resulting in reductions in the rates of teenage pregnancy in the United States. Despite the criticism associated with such shows, deeming them to glorify and publicize teenage pregnancy, MTV, the key channel concerned with the broadcasts further responded to the criticism, by releasing ‘Teen Mom’ – a show highlighting the stark realities as consequences of such acts. Hence, it can be concluding that considering the recorded decline in the rate of teenage pregnancy in the United States following the telecasting of such shows, as well as the realities and hardships projected by the same, it can be concluded that reality television shows project responsible messages on teenage pregnancy amongst those who are engaged in their viewing. References  Aubrey, J. S., Behm-Morawitz, E., & Kim, K. (2014). Understanding the effects of MTV’s 16 and pregnant on adolescent girls’ beliefs, attitudes, and behavioral intentions toward teen pregnancy. Journal of health communication, 19(10), 1145-1160. Flynn, M. A., Morin, D., Park, S. Y., & Stana, A. (2015). “Let’s Get This Party Started!”: An Analysis of Health Risk Behavior on MTV Reality Television Shows. Journal of health communication, 20(12), 1382-1390. Kearney, M. S., & Levine, P. B. (2015). Media influences on social outcomes: The impact of MTV’s 16 and pregnant on teen childbearing. American Economic Review, 105(12), 3597-3632. Martins, N., Malacane, M., Lewis, N., & Kraus, A. (2016). A Content Analysis of Teen Parenthood in “Teen Mom” Reality Programming. Health communication, 31(12), 1548-1556. Mollborn, S. (2017). Teenage mothers today: what we know and how it matters. Child development perspectives, 11(1), 63-69. Secura, G. M., Madden, T., McNicholas, C., Mullersman, J., Buckel, C. M., Zhao, Q., & Peipert, J. F. (2014). Provision of no-cost, long-acting contraception and teenage pregnancy. New England Journal of Medicine, 371(14), 1316-1323. Trudeau, J. (2016). The role of new media on teen sexual behaviors and fertility outcomes—the case of 16 and Pregnant. Southern Economic Journal, 82(3), 975-1003.

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