The ‘Teen Mom’ Effect: Young Viewers Say The Show Schools Them On Parenting Challenges

By Lauren Mann of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy

Season 3 of “Teen Mom 2” was full of many surprises, but each of the girls made really positive strides in their lives. Chelsea earned her GED, and it looks like she’s finally starting to get over Adam. Jenelle set some great goals for the future, like going back to school, starting a career and taking back custody of Jace. Kailyn and Jo are getting the hang of the whole co-parenting thing, even with new significant others in their lives, and Leah has a wedding and baby on the way! Everyone’s doing their best to choose the right paths, and it seems to be rubbing off on their peers.

Teen birth rates in the U.S. are the lowest they’ve been since the 194os. Since the peak in 1991, the teen birth rate has declined 49 percent, and a full 25 percent between 2007 and 2011. Shows like “Teen Mom 2″ and “16 and Pregnant” possibly contribute to the overall decline by giving viewers a realistic look at teen pregnancy and parenthood. Among teens who have seen “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom,” 77 percent think the shows help them better understand the challenges involved.

But there’s still work to do. Despite the impressive declines, it remains true that nearly three in ten girls in the U.S. get pregnant by the time they’re 20. Each year, there are about 733,000 teen pregnancies and more than 400,000 teen births. The only way to prevent an unplanned pregnancy — at any age — is to either not have sex or use a form of contraception carefully and consistently every single time.

To learn more about all of the different methods of birth control and figure out which is the best kind for you, check out the brand new Birth Control Explorer on StayTeen.org.

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