As it turns out, the show 16 and Pregnant is good for something. I don’t think it ever actually aimed to reduce teen pregnancy, I think it was mostly to revel in the misery of other people, but I bet they’re sure going to take credit for it now. A study released by the National Bureau of Economic Research has apparently found that the show actually may have been one of the reasons why birth rate in teens has declined by 63% since 1991. The researchers estimate that it led to a 5.7% reduction in teen pregnancies only 18 months after airing.
I mean, it makes sense. I don’t know if any of you have ever watched 16 and Pregnant, but it certainly doesn’t glamorize teen motherhood and those girls don’t end up still looking relatively put together as teen moms usually do on television (after hair and make up for 2 hours to make them look messy-chic).
Instead, you get the obvious long nights with crying children, but also failing relationships, crappy jobs, teenage drama heightened by stress of having responsibilities and sometimes even rehab. Basically, it puts the reality in reality TV in a way the Kardashians really doesn’t and viewers go away thinking “I’m going to make sure I don’t end up like that”, which is why this show qualifies as sex ed better than sex ed in schools does. Simply warning kids to be safe doesn’t work. It’s the whole “baby won’t stop touching the fire ‘til they get burned” thing. Only you can’t put ointment on this.
Although, 16 and Pregnant can’t take all the credit, I’m pretty sure all the other organizations trying to get the whole “don’t be silly, wrap your willy” thing out there contributed too.