Reality Shows on Teen Pregnancy: Glorifying or Educational?


It seems congratulations are in order for Leah Messer and Jeremy Calvert.


Leah Messer of MTV’s popular reality show Teen Mom 2 and her husband welcomed a daughter on Monday, Feb. 4. The new addition is the third child for the 20-year-old TV star.

Leah’s new addition is welcomed by her 3-year-old twin daughters, Aliannah Hope and Aleeah Grace Simms, from her previous marriage to Corey Simms.

So just to summarize: Leah is 20, has three children, on her second marriage, and a reality TV star on MTV.

Does this not seem wrong?

But let’s not just pick on Leah. Her costar Jenelle Evans has been making headlines of her own recently with a quickie wedding (to baby daddy No. 2), a second pregnancy with a Twitter baby bump reveal, and a subsequent miscarriage and marital split — which dramatically played out over social media, of course.

Did we fail to mention that Janelle does not have custody of her first child, 3-year-old son Jace, due to her past drug abuse and multiple arrests? And she is 21.

And of course there’s Amber Portwood of Teen Mom fame. No, she’s not pregnant again, but the troubled reality star is currently incarcerated.

After battling her drug addictions and anger management issues for four seasons of Teen Mom, the 22-year-old mom of daughter Leah, 4, began serving a five-year sentence last June.

The list goes on.

Jamie McKay of MTV’s 16 And Pregnant (yes, MTV has two reality shows on teen pregnancy) took to Twitter, sharing her decision to terminate her second pregnancy with boyfriend Ryan McElrath.

“Thank you all for the love and support but I want you to know I did not miscarry. I chose abortion. I chose it out of fear. I feel like I made a mistake and I can’t take it back,” the reality TV star revealed to her followers.

It’s been a rocky relationship for the young couple, including Jamie’s court filing in May 2011 for sole custody of their daughter Miah, claiming that Ryan had “a history of driving while under the influence of alcohol” and a “history of cocaine abuse.”

Is this really educating our youth?

Admittedly, I have not watched a second of any of these reality shows. But it sure seems MTV is cashing in on today’s troubled youth. Why don’t we see shows celebrating successful teens? Let’s pitch this reality show to the television executives: Teens Talk Kindness, Anti-Bullying & Educational Goals. Not an easy sell, I’m sure!

In a frank discussion, talk show host Chelsea Handler opened up about her personal ordeal with teen pregnancy and the current reality TV shows that seem to glorify this controversial topic.

“We’re seeking out such grossness in human behavior and want such mindless entertainment,” Chelsea said, and added, “…Or 16 and Pregnant. Getting rewarded for being pregnant when you’re a teenager? Are you serious? I mean, that makes me want to kill somebody.”

Chelsea knows this situation personally, admitting that she terminated an unwanted pregnancy in her youth.

“I had an abortion when I was 16,” she said. “Because that’s what I should have done. Otherwise I would now have a 20-year-old kid. Anyway, those are things that people shouldn’t be dishonest about it.”

The best-selling author and host of Chelsea Lately went on to say, “I wouldn’t be a good mother. I have no regret at all.”

What do you think? Are these reality shows educational or do they glorify teen pregnancy?

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  1. Terri

    I totally agree that we should have shows about our youth on what their accomplishments are rather than glorifing their troubles. What happened to “Sex Ed”, “Health” class?

  2. Tammi

    Having been a teen mom in the 90′s. I can personally tell anyone how hard that is to do. How to make it harder? Having three kids by 19. that was me. If Someone is going to make a reality show on teen pregnancy. Make it about how HARD is it to be a parent before You’re ready. Emotionally, physically and most especially, Financially! All these TV shows nowadays are about money (ofcourse they are), but the shows would make just as much money by showing kids these days that staying in school and making a LIFE, living, knowing what a real childhood/teenhood is all about BEFORE becoming a parent. I never finished high school. I have 5 children now and a grand child. The kids that are old enough all finished school(if not college), but waited until they were ready to have a child before doing so. I’m PROUD of my children for doing what I couldn’t at the time. Kids. Do Yourselves a favor. Kick the boys/girls to the curb, concentrate on YOU, Your studies, Your family. Get a job if You’re bored. Running off to have sex and party will only end You up with missing out on a good, responsible life. Trust me on this..

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  4. Hemi

    These shows are doing nothing to discourage teen pregnancy. They glorify it. This is how is goes in their minds: I get pregnant and because I’m totally awesome, I’ll get on 16 & Pregnant. When my baby is born, I’ll totally get on Teen Mom because of course I’ll be a super mom at 16. I’ll be making money and it will all be fantastic!
    If you want to show teen moms on TV, show REAL teen moms- those who work 2 jobs, are lucky to have a car and babysitter, live in federally-funded project homes and struggle to make enough money to feed their kids and pay their bills.
    The TM2 girls get paid to be trashy, slutty and over-dramatic. They don’t worry about if they will have enough money to pay the bills, the rent, the babsitter, fix the car and feed their kids. This is a completey *unrealistic* “reality” show.

  5. Yes, as hard as it is to take. The TV shows produced these days are for entertainment purposes and not educational. Can’t really blame the studios as they’re just catering to what the viewers want! I still find it hard to comprehend how many people actually love these kind of shows.

    At the end of the day, it’s all up to how you bring your kids up. The values you instill in them is what will help them tell the difference between garbage and knowledge.

    Good job pointing this out!


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