TV show minimized teenage pregnancies

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TV show shows everyday life of teenage mothers and may have contributed to the decline in teenage pregnancies in the United States

MTV's TV show "16 and pregnant" accompanies teenagers during the pregnancy and with their babies in the first weeks after the birth of film teams. There has been a lot of criticism since the show started in the United States in 2009. Experts and laypeople fear that teenage pregnancies play down on the program and that adolescents could even be encouraged to become pregnant. However, a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research in Massachusetts found that the show could have an opposite effect.

Study shows positive effect of TV show on teenage pregnancies after Melissa Kearney and Phillip Levine of the University of Maryland examined whether the MTV show influences teenagers' attitudes towards pregnancy, contraception and abortion. The scientists first carried out analyzes on Google and Twitter. It turned out that significantly more searches and tweets about contraception and pregnancy were started during the broadcasting period of "16 and pregnant" than at other times. There was also a drop in the birth rate of teenage mothers of just under six percent in the United States during the 18-month broadcast. However, Kearney and Levine did not solely attribute this decline to the program. About half of it was due to the recession, the scientists reported. Previous studies have shown that the birth rate is declining in times of economic crisis. In places where the show had a particularly large number of viewers, the birth rate dropped particularly sharply. The positive effect of the television format can therefore not be denied.

“We found that ’16 and pregnant’ led to more searches and tweets about birth control and abortion, and ultimately a 5.7 percent reduction in teenage births within 18 months of the show’s first airing. This accounts for about a third of the total drop in teenage births in the United States during this period, ”the scientists write.

Open discussions and education can prevent teenage pregnancies In Germany, around 10,000 minors become pregnant every year. The number of girls who give birth to their children roughly corresponds to the number of those who choose to terminate their pregnancy, reports Dr. Ulrich Fegeler of the Association of Pediatricians with reference to another US study that examined the effects of a national abstinence campaign. Instead of religiously and morally motivated campaigns, Fegeler believes that open conversations and education make sense. (ag)

Picture: Christian v.R. /

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