Newest way to reduce teen pregnancies: Watching MTV?

posted at 2:01 pm on January 13, 2014 by Allahpundit

I don’t know why parents didn’t trust the network responsible for “Jersey Shore” and “Catfish” to treat a subject like teen pregnancy sensitively rather than as campy reality-celebrity freak-show fun.

Strictly speaking, what the study shows is that the teen birthrate fell more steeply in areas where more teens were watching MTV. The idea that teens are being scared straight by the show “16 and Pregnant” specifically is an assumption, but a logical one. The sense I get from the NYT piece is that this is going to become a proxy for approaches to sex ed — for lefties, evidence that frankly confronting a taboo subject leads to more responsible sexual behavior, and for righties, evidence that deglamorizing sex by emphasizing its potential hardships is important in teaching kids.

A new economic study of Nielsen television ratings and birth records suggests that the show she appeared in, “16 and Pregnant,” and its spinoffs may have prevented more than 20,000 births to teenage mothers in 2010.

The paper, to be released Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research, makes the case that the controversial but popular programs reduced the teenage birthrate by nearly 6 percent, contributing to a long-term decline that accelerated during the recession…

Ms. Kearney and Mr. Levine examined birth records and Nielsen television ratings, finding that the rate of teenage pregnancy declined faster in areas where teenagers were watching more MTV programming — not only the “16 and Pregnant” series — than in areas where they did not. The study focuses on the period after “16 and Pregnant” was introduced in 2009 and accounts for the fact that teenagers who tuned in to the show might have been at higher risk of having a child to begin with.

“The assumption we’re making is that there’s no reason to think that places where more people are watching more MTV in June 2009, would start seeing an excess rate of decline in the teen birthrate, but for the change in what they were watching,” Mr. Levine said.

The impact was greatest among black teens, according to the Times; whether that’s because the teen birth rate among that group had more room to fall or because of some other cultural element of the show is hard to say. The whole point of 16&P, it seems, is to de-normalize teen pregnancy as something so extraordinary, fraught, and disruptive as to merit its own TV treatment. The less accustomed you are to seeing it that way, I assume, the more of an impact it’ll have. One open question, though: What, specifically, is responsible for the reduction in births? If this really is a pop-cult sex ad class, what’s the core lesson teens are taking away from it — abstinence, contraception, or abortion? The study tracked social-media mentions of 16&P after each episode aired and found that the words “contraception” and “abortion” were both used more frequently afterward. Hmmmm.

Hollywood and the TV industry love to emphasize how influential they are when the result of that influence is good but ferociously resist accusations of influence when the result is bad. Here’s proof, seemingly, and to no one’s surprise, that mass media’s approach to a social problem can move the needle. And if it can move this way, why not the other way? Makes me wonder: Will 16&P’s success start a trend of scared-straight programming aimed at teens? MTV’s never going to do a show about, say, the aftermath of abortion, but some other conservative-leaning outfit might. Now all we have to do is figure out a way to get that in front of a wide audience.


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I don’t think it is 16&P. I think it is Honey Boo Boo. More than enough to deter procreation.

Happy Nomad on January 13, 2014 at 2:04 PM

Repost from headlines:

“Sponsored by… Planned Parenthood”.

- “You rape ‘em, we scrape ‘em, no fetus can beat us!”

/tasteless joke I heard in high school

Ward Cleaver on January 13, 2014 at 2:05 PM

I would say abortion and contraceptives are reducing teen pregnancies….and that’s not a good thing.

terryannonline on January 13, 2014 at 2:05 PM

Ward, must you bring it over here, too?

John the Libertarian on January 13, 2014 at 2:08 PM

Seems legit. I’ve watched hours and hours of Beavis and Butthead and never made anybody pregnant.

Gingotts on January 13, 2014 at 2:09 PM

I would say abortion and contraceptives are reducing teen pregnancies….and that’s not a good thing.

terryannonline on January 13, 2014 at 2:05 PM

Not a good thing? Abortion and free contraceptives have become “rights” in Obama’s world. And there are many rabid stupid women who would agree.

Happy Nomad on January 13, 2014 at 2:09 PM

To think it was the cute one in the original series (my wife watched it sometimes) that got into porn (including @n@l).

DethMetalCookieMonst on January 13, 2014 at 2:11 PM

And there are many rabid stupid women who would agree.

Happy Nomad on January 13, 2014 at 2:09 PM

This woman doesn’t agree but, yeah, way too many women want free contraception and abortion.

But then they wonder when they turn thirty why they can’t figure out as to why they can’t find good man to have a baby with…..
well you spent your twenties on birth control with a complete jerk who didn’t want to commit.

terryannonline on January 13, 2014 at 2:14 PM

Best thing ever shown on MTV.

M240H on January 13, 2014 at 2:15 PM

MTV’s never going to do a show about, say, the aftermath of abortion

…Dr. Gosnell didn’t sign a contract?

KOOLAID2 on January 13, 2014 at 2:16 PM

(my wife watched it sometimes)

We believe you. *eyeroll*

myiq2xu on January 13, 2014 at 2:17 PM

i’ve never watched the show but now i’m curious! it’s good that it reduces teen pregnancy. but we need a show that will reduce teen sex in the first place.

Sachiko on January 13, 2014 at 2:18 PM

Best thing ever shown on MTV.

I’m so old I remember when MTV showed music videos.

myiq2xu on January 13, 2014 at 2:20 PM

But then they wonder when they turn thirty why they can’t figure out as to why they can’t find good man to have a baby with…..
well you spent your twenties on birth control with a complete jerk who didn’t want to commit.

terryannonline on January 13, 2014 at 2:14 PM

And so they spend their thirties whining about their lack of a love life.

Happy Nomad on January 13, 2014 at 2:21 PM

we need a show that will reduce teen sex in the first place.

I thought that was what HBO’s “Girls” is for? To de-bonerize American males.

myiq2xu on January 13, 2014 at 2:22 PM

This woman doesn’t agree but, yeah, way too many women want free contraception and abortion.

But then they wonder when they turn thirty why they can’t figure out as to why they can’t find good man to have a baby with…..
well you spent your twenties on birth control with a complete jerk who didn’t want to commit.

terryannonline on January 13, 2014 at 2:14 PM

Why would any man commit to a woman who would have her child scraped from her womb? That doesn’t make him a jerk, that makes him a realist.

And if you want to be really super realistic, in this feminized society even the beta boys would be fools to commit to today’s American women whose priority list puts child rearing way down on the list.

M240H on January 13, 2014 at 2:24 PM

well you spent your twenties on birth control skanking it up with a bunch of complete jerks who didn’t want to commit.

FTFY

myiq2xu on January 13, 2014 at 2:24 PM

but we need a show that will reduce teen sex in the first place.

Sachiko on January 13, 2014 at 2:18 PM

C-Span.

Seriously, I doubt that there is any causal effects of a television program to the pregnancy rate.

Happy Nomad on January 13, 2014 at 2:25 PM

Anyone remember when MTV aired music videos? Good times….good times.

Deafdog on January 13, 2014 at 2:26 PM

I think this is a reach. They watch MTV in general more, not just this show. Are we going to conclude watching MTV makes people so depressed about the prospects for the future they stop procreating?

Rocks on January 13, 2014 at 2:26 PM

Why would any man commit to a woman who would have her child scraped from her womb? That doesn’t make him a jerk, that makes him a realist.

Or a woman who has three kids from 2 different guys (neither of which she was married to) before she is 25. Most guys want to start their own families, not get one that’s already made.

myiq2xu on January 13, 2014 at 2:27 PM

And if you want to be really super realistic, in this feminized society even the beta boys would be fools to commit to today’s American women whose priority list puts child rearing way down on the list.

M240H on January 13, 2014 at 2:24 PM

I agree with this. But let’s be honest….modern men don’t put child rearing high on the list either.

Although, I think it is in men’s nature to not want to commit so women have to give a slight nudge……which women these days see as a being too pushy.

terryannonline on January 13, 2014 at 2:28 PM

Despite the furor over the IRS assault on conservative groups leading up to the 2012 elections, this man – a despotic radical who’s turned our constitutional republic into one of the banana variety – has quietly released a proposed set of new IRS regulations that, if implemented, will immediately, unlawfully and permanently muzzle conservative 501(c)(4) nonprofit organizations and their individual employees.

http://cnsnews.com/commentary/j-matt-barber/proposed-irs-regs-would-immediately-unlawfully-and-permanently-muzzle

davidk on January 13, 2014 at 2:28 PM

Oh, I’m so glad to hear this. So the Beverly Hillbillies down the street are actually doing their young children a favor by letting them watch MTV.
Good to know. /

ORconservative on January 13, 2014 at 2:30 PM

In 1991, 62 teenage girls out of every 1,000 gave birth. By 2007, that ratio had fallen to 42 out of every 1,000. The latest recession and slow recovery caused the birthrate to drop more rapidly, to 29 out of every 1,000 by 2012.

How does the recession have any impact on teen girls? Perhaps more mothers or fathers are now home and have a better grip on what their teen children are doing?

cptacek on January 13, 2014 at 2:30 PM

Although, I think it is in men’s nature to not want to commit so women have to give a slight nudge……which women these days see as a being too pushy.

terryannonline on January 13, 2014 at 2:28 PM

Men mature differently than women. I don’t know the reason but somewhere around 25, men either grow up and want to be adults or they decide they want to remain little boys.

Happy Nomad on January 13, 2014 at 2:31 PM

Or a woman who has three kids from 2 different guys (neither of which she was married to) before she is 25. Most guys want to start their own families, not get one that’s already made.

myiq2xu on January 13, 2014 at 2:27 PM

Yep.

terryannonline on January 13, 2014 at 2:31 PM

Or a woman who has three kids from 2 different guys (neither of which she was married to) before she is 25. Most guys want to start their own families, not get one that’s already made.

myiq2xu on January 13, 2014 at 2:27 PM

This is spot on!

cptacek on January 13, 2014 at 2:34 PM

well you spent your twenties on birth control skanking it up with a bunch of complete jerks who didn’t want to commit.
FTFY

myiq2xu on January 13, 2014 at 2:24 PM

Well…yeah. Faceless Julia is probably a major skank. LOL!

terryannonline on January 13, 2014 at 2:36 PM

I agree with this. But let’s be honest….modern men don’t put child rearing high on the list either.

Although, I think it is in men’s nature to not want to commit so women have to give a slight nudge……which women these days see as a being too pushy.

terryannonline on January 13, 2014 at 2:28 PM

As I type this I am literally surrounded by young men in digitized uniforms, with combat patches on their right sleeve, who understand commitment better than the Pope.

I think that “nudge” you speak of is today more often an elbow in the workplace. Men don’t commit to competitiors. That sh** ain’t natural.

M240H on January 13, 2014 at 2:38 PM

I think that “nudge” you speak of is today more often an elbow in the workplace. Men don’t commit to competitiors. That sh** ain’t natural.

M240H on January 13, 2014 at 2:38 PM

Just so I can be clear to as what you are saying…..are you saying guys are less likely to commit because they now see women as competitors in the workplace?

terryannonline on January 13, 2014 at 2:42 PM

Just so I can be clear to as what you are saying…..are you saying guys are less likely to commit because they now see women as competitors in the workplace?

terryannonline on January 13, 2014 at 2:42 PM

Yes.

M240H on January 13, 2014 at 2:49 PM

Yes.

M240H on January 13, 2014 at 2:49 PM

Interesting. I’ve never heard someone say that.

terryannonline on January 13, 2014 at 2:51 PM

finding that the rate of teenage pregnancy declined faster in areas where teenagers were watching more MTV programming — not only the “16 and Pregnant” series — than in areas where they did not.

Did they measure overall TV watching by the girls? If not, then this could just be that teen girls are watching more TV lately instead of having sex, and it has nothing to do with MTV in particular.

fadetogray on January 13, 2014 at 2:54 PM

You mean cautionary tales work? Maybe it’s time to legalize all drugs, and let that carnage wash away the illusion of Cheech and Chong. Our problem is that we’ve attempted to shelter everyone from life, and now nobody ever expects to pay the penalty for their actions. They’ve come to believe SITCOM TV and don’t even imagine that there is a penalty.

DFCtomm on January 13, 2014 at 3:00 PM

I can confirm from listening to my 17 year old daughter and her friends that 16&P is very influential (in a good way) here in the Chicago exurbs. She and her friends see the lives those girls lead and are terrified of winding up in a similar situation.

jog267 on January 13, 2014 at 3:02 PM

You mean cautionary tales work? Maybe it’s time to legalize all drugs, and let that carnage wash away the illusion of Cheech and Chong. Our problem is that we’ve attempted to shelter everyone from life, and now nobody ever expects to pay the penalty for their actions. They’ve come to believe SITCOM TV and don’t even imagine that there is a penalty.

DFCtomm on January 13, 2014 at 3:00 PM

I don’t think it’s this simple. Let’s use marijuana as an example. The left and the media are in love with marijuana right now, so they don’t focus on the negatives. Without the visuals of the negatives many will continue to make bad choices. This is not an argument for why any state should keep marijuana illegal, but just an observation that without social stigma bad behavior tends not to be avoided by those with poor role models in their lives. And far too often the left considers stigmatization to be the worst thing imaginable. Unless, of course, they are stigmatizing those things they hate themselves, such as Christianity.

NotCoach on January 13, 2014 at 3:06 PM

The age range for maturation was pretty close for me. I was 27 when I finally decided to let my wife make an honest man out of me.

I have heard something similar to M240H’s statement. I know I have seen articles recently about women trying to be too much like men as far as their careers and home life, and men not wanting to marry them.

JAGonzo on January 13, 2014 at 3:07 PM

Interesting. I’ve never heard someone say that.

terryannonline on January 13, 2014 at 2:51 PM

Women fall victim to the fallacy that everyone is attracted to the very same thing. They get a good education, and a nice career and then about 35 they wonder why no men are interested in them. They make up lies to tell themselves that men are afraid of strong women. Women have adopted traits that they find attractive, and don’t understand why men don’t agree. They then attempt to browbeat men into submission in the media, pleading for them to man up and find them as attractive as they think they are.

DFCtomm on January 13, 2014 at 3:09 PM

But then they wonder when they turn thirty why they can’t figure out as to why they can’t find good man to have a baby with…..
well you spent your twenties on birth control with a complete jerk who didn’t want to commit.

terryannonline on January 13, 2014 at 2:14 PM

Yep…and after all that BC and maybe an abortion too, by the time they find a willing dad, they’re close to 40 or even past it and now have fertility problems.

Not to mention that said relationship isn’t as stable as it might have been if it weren’t formed in haste in order to procreate, and so if the woman does manage to conceive, she often ends up a single mom before she’s 50.

The sexual revolution has really worked out well for irresponsible men – they get free sex without commitment while they’re young and then, when they’re finally ready to settle down and have kids, they find a younger woman. Thanks a lot 60s feminists.

Missy on January 13, 2014 at 3:09 PM

Women fall victim to the fallacy that everyone is attracted to the very same thing. They get a good education, and a nice career and then about 35 they wonder why no men are interested in them. They make up lies to tell themselves that men are afraid of strong women. Women have adopted traits that they find attractive, and don’t understand why men don’t agree. They then attempt to browbeat men into submission in the media, pleading for them to man up and find them as attractive as they think they are.

DFCtomm on January 13, 2014 at 3:09 PM

This.

Shump on January 13, 2014 at 3:16 PM

I don’t think it’s this simple.
NotCoach on January 13, 2014 at 3:06 PM

It is that simple, until we finally learn to pay attention to history, and then it will be unnecessary.

DFCtomm on January 13, 2014 at 3:17 PM

The sexual revolution has really worked out well for irresponsible men – they get free sex without commitment while they’re young and then, when they’re finally ready to settle down and have kids, they find a younger woman. Thanks a lot 60s feminists.

Missy on January 13, 2014 at 3:09 PM

I will never forget an article posted here on Hot Air by a man whose mother basically gave up on love after having him out-of-wedlock.

One line that stood out to me it was something to the effect of “The Sexual Revolution made it to where men were willing to sleep with her but no one wanted to start a family with her.”

Wow.

terryannonline on January 13, 2014 at 3:22 PM

As someone who has dated a female boss and ex-boss, had less “formal” relationships with other colleagues and seen innumerable romances and marriages spring up between co-workers, I’d like to dismiss the idea that men don’t dare women “competitors” as poppycock.

I’m also a little dubious about the birth control value of MTV. Too
many variables.

urban elitist on January 13, 2014 at 3:28 PM

One line that stood out to me it was something to the effect of “The Sexual Revolution made it to where men were willing to sleep with her but no one wanted to start a family with her.”

Wow.

terryannonline on January 13, 2014 at 3:22 PM

Notice how you place the emphasis on the male role. You ever think that she might have been a nightmare, but was able to hold the charade together for a couple of dates? Nope, it must have been the man’s fault. He was there for the sex but wouldn’t man up, the irresponsible lout. What was she doing having sex before she got a commitment, but no we should ignore that question.

DFCtomm on January 13, 2014 at 3:29 PM

Notice how you place the emphasis on the male role. You ever think that she might have been a nightmare, but was able to hold the charade together for a couple of dates? Nope, it must have been the man’s fault. He was there for the sex but wouldn’t man up, the irresponsible lout. What was she doing having sex before she got a commitment, but no we should ignore that question.

DFCtomm on January 13, 2014 at 3:29 PM

I agree completely you.

Too many women sleep with men without commitment and it just as much as their fault as the men.

terryannonline on January 13, 2014 at 3:32 PM

Yes, women are complicit without a doubt.

To be fair to both young men and young women, they are taught absolute rubbish from an early age about all this stuff by both pop culture and (sadly) many of the adults in their lives. Or they are simply not taught anything at all and left to figure it out on their own.

Missy on January 13, 2014 at 3:53 PM

It is that simple, until we finally learn to pay attention to history, and then it will be unnecessary.

DFCtomm on January 13, 2014 at 3:17 PM

Except that it’s not that simple for the reasons I outlined above. Based on your response I wonder if you even read my post. Yes, IF we pay attention to history.

NotCoach on January 13, 2014 at 4:04 PM

Have you ever watched 16&P? I have, a few times when I’m bored, nothing else on, etc.

Almost every episode I have seen completely de-glamorizes teen pregnancy.
The girl is in love with her boyfriend, she gets pregnant, the boy totally flakes out.

Her parents are furious. She has to stay up all night with the baby and go to school in the morning. The baby gets sick and she has to miss school to care for her, or her parents have to take off work and are furious, again. Her friends move on and are having a normal teen life, without her.

It is a very hard look at the realities of being a teen mom, often alone (no baby-daddy in the picture).

I have often thought about making my daughter (now 6) watch the shows when she gets to the dating stage.

msjake on January 14, 2014 at 12:36 PM