I hate to admit it, but one of my guilty pleasures is watching the MTV show, Teen Mom. It follows the lives of girls who were featured on another MTV show 16 and Pregnant. Both shows reveal the difficulties and struggles of being a teenager while taking care of a baby. The shows have become very popular and continue to be a success for the network year after year.
With the popularity and success of the show, especially with teenagers, it may come as a surprise that many of the teens watching the show still might be unaware that sex can cause pregnancy.
A new survey released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week revealed that the United States has the highest rate of teen pregnancy of any developed country in the world. The survey compiled answers from 5,000 teenage girls who experienced unplanned pregnancies and gave birth between 2004 and 2008.
What’s even more shocking to me is that of the teens surveyed that got pregnant while not using any form of contraception, about half of them didn’t use it because they didn’t know they could get pregnant at the time! And a small percentage said they didn’t use birth control because they thought either they or their partner were sterile. A third of overall girls surveyed said they didn’t use birth control because they thought they were immune to pregnancy.
I have two teenage brothers that are both in high school, and while we don’t talk about the birds and the bees on nearly any occasion (that’s my parents job,) they are very aware that sex can have major consequences at their age, one of which being pregnancy. It was no secret to them how I got pregnant with both my daughter and now this little girl.
Even if my brothers weren’t exposed to having an older sister who has been through pregnancy, I would hope that there is some sort of sex education in the schools that reveal that having intercourse can cause pregnancy. As a former sixth grade teacher, we taught sex education in the classroom (with written consent from the parents.) Some of the topics we discussed were sex, sexually transmitted diseases, and pregnancy. With the help of a slide show presentation, my students learned about male and female reproductive organs and how they are able to procreate.
The rest of the survey revealed that a quarter of those that didn’t use birth control didn’t because their partner didn’t want them to. We all remember how naive and lovestruck we could get as teenagers.
The thought of making my high school boyfriend happy was a top priority for me because in my fantasy world, I thought we would be together forever. I thought we were in love. Apparently the trend hasn’t changed in the past ten years, and girls are still vying for the love of their boyfriends. So much so that they won’t use protection for their partner’s pure pleasure. What’s sad to me is that most of these girls that happen to get pregnant from this don’t end up with their boyfriends and are left to care for a baby by themselves.
I hope that this survey can bring awareness to teens, parents, and the education system about the sex and pregnancy. Maybe then shows like Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant will become obsolete.
What do you think about the results of this survey?
Photo credit: morgueFile/taliesin