I’m not afraid to admit that I am a pretty big fan of reality television. It’s just sort of something that my college aged generation has grown up with.
We’ve known it our entire lives. Recently, as I was hanging out in my dorm room, I found myself pretty disgusted with the MTV reality television show “Teen Mom.” It didn’t quite hit me until now how perverse a show about struggling teen mothers truly is. Teen pregnancy is a preventable tragedy in our society. It does not affect only those who actually get pregnant. Many people don’t understand that teen pregnancy has costs for our entire community. We joke about it and distance ourselves from the issue, when in reality it is something that affects us all. In the state of South Carolina, 3 out of 10 women will become pregnant by the age of 20. Included in this statistic are an incredibly high number of unwanted pregnancies and it has implications for our community and state as a whole.
Without comprehensive sex education how can we expect young women in our society to understand the consequences of their actions? Rather than watching TV shows about teen pregnancy, young girls need to be taught that NO ONE is immune to this issue, no matter your socioeconomic level. Teen pregnancy is an epidemic that feeds itself. Children born to teen mothers are more likely to have unwanted pregnancies themselves, not to mention they are more likely to be incarcerated and spend time in prison. We are doing absolutely nothing positive for our society by using teen pregnancy as a form of entertainment.
As I spend my last year as a teenager and my first year in college, I feel as though I have developed a more adult understanding of teen pregnancy and the flawed way it is handled in our society. As a young person, we treat teen pregnancy as a joke. We watch TV shows and talk about how glad we are that it isn’t us up on that screen. We try to distance ourselves from the issue and behave as though it is something that doesn’t affect us unless we are actually carrying a child. Ultimately, teen pregnancy impacts our entire society. It’s about time we start teaching our children about how important this issue actually is and stop using it as a form of entertainment.
Kayla Mikolajewski is a freshman at University of South Carolina.