Teen pregnancy rates have been steadily declining in the United States within the last 40 years, but a new study argues that in recent years, that decline has become more rapid due to a surprising source: MTV. The National Bureau of Economic Research study argues that MTV reality shows "16 and Pregnant" and its spin-offs programs have reduced the teen pregnancy rate by 5.7 percent. But while these shows may have contributed to a decline in teen pregnancy rates, they also fit a larger trend in teen pregnancy prevention of using teen mothers as objects of shame.
The study found that "16 and Pregnant" and its spin-offs may have prevented more than 20,000 births to teenage mothers since 2010. It also found that after being introduced to "16 and Pregnant," teens and young women searched and tweeted about birth control and abortion. Obviously, this is encouraging. Women are seeking out information on reproductive health care, and in a climate where access to that information and care from traditional sources like school-sponsored sex ed programs is increasingly hard to come by, it is promising that a show may be inspiring teens and women to inform themselves by going online.
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