Husband-and-wife journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn are behind the women’s empowerment book and movement Half the Sky. And, it turns out, Krisof is a fan of MTV’s “16 and Pregnant” for its proven work in reducing teen pregnancy rates.
In his piece for the New York Times, Kristof spoke about how reducing the teen birthrate is a big step in ending cycles of poverty. “We’ve tried virginity pledges, condoms and sex education,” he wrote. “And, finally, we have a winner, a tool that has been remarkably effective in cutting teenage births. It’s ‘16 and Pregnant,’ a reality show on MTV that has been a huge hit, spawning spinoffs like the ‘Teen Mom’ franchise. These shows remind youthful viewers that babies cry and vomit, scream in the middle of the night and poop with abandon.”
He talked more about the study done on how these MTV shows are bringing down the birth rate. “Kearney and Levine [who did the study] find that regions with a higher audience for ‘16 and Pregnant’ and the ‘Teen Mom’ franchise had more of a drop in teenage births. Over all, their statistical analysis concludes that the shows reduced teenage births by 5.7 percent, or 20,000 fewer teenage births each year. That’s one birth averted every half-hour.”
Another thing he brought up is the importance of birth control being accessible to couples who need it. “It’s also a reminder of the paramount need for clinics that offer free, long-acting contraception: When a teenage girl searches the web for birth control, let’s make sure she finds solutions.”
Earlier this year, MTV’s network President Stephen Friedman spoke to The New York Times about the show, asaying, “It’s another reminder that great storytelling can be a powerful catalyst for change.”
Teen parenthood is something that’s 100% preventable, and if you ever have questions about birth control and how to keep yourself protected, check out It’s Your (Sex) Life.
“16 And Pregnant” returns April 29th at 11/10c.
Photo (MTV Press)
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