MTV Exploiting Pregnant Teens?

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pregnant teen

Pregnant teens are new reality show stars. Image: sxc.hu

Back in December, an MTV executive promised viewers a kinder, gentler MTV. The network responsible for such gems as the vapid pseudo-reality show "The Hills" and the nauseating "My Super Sweet Sixteen" was planning to scale back on the sensationalism and offer up some programming with a heart.

"Our new shows will feature themes of affirmation and accomplishment," said Brian Graden, president of entertainment at MTV Networks music channels and president of Logo. "Our shows are going to focus less on loud and silly hooks and more on young people proving themselves. These are themes that are consistent with the Obama generation."

Technically, I guess their soon-to-premiere reality show "16 & Pregnant" fits the bill. Starring real-life pregnant teenagers, the show will document the challenges these girl face as they come to terms with their forever-changed lives.

"'16 & Pregnant' follows the journey of six young women going through an immensely life-changing experience at such a young age," says Tony DiSanto, MTV's president of programming. "Each episode tells a new, unique story and shows the real-life challenges they face from dealing with family and friends to school and finances as new mothers. This is the real secret life of an American teenager."

I suppose this show is meant to serve as a cautionary tale about the consequences of having sex. And while it might serve that purpose in some way, what else does it do? Does it glamorize teen pregnancy? Does it exploit these young girls and send a message that getting pregnant equals attention? Or worse, does it normalize something that should remain abnormal: Children having children?

DiSanto brags about MTV's long history of reflecting the lives of their viewers with "compelling reality stories." But I can't help but wonder if the commercialization of teen pregnancy is merely reflecting reality or helping to shape it.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.