Scoot: Are You Shocked by New Teen Pregnancy Rate?
If a new study showed that teen pregnancies had increased and hit an all-time high, I guarantee you there would be talk show hosts, politicians and religious groups that would use the new information to condemn sexual content in music videos, song lyrics, on TV and in movies for the unacceptable increase in teen pregnancies. There would also be the regular chorus of voices proclaiming that teenagers today are reckless with their sexual activities and do not think about the consequences of their behavior.
Well, here is the shocking headline: "U.S. teen pregnancy rates hit an all-time lowwith all ethnicities!"
Media reaction to these new statistical facts will not equal the reaction if the facts had shown an increase in teen pregnancies. This again reminds us that the media and talk show hosts are driven by controversies that fit preconceived opinions rather than the truth. In fact, the new report indicates the percentage of pregnant teenagers was higher in 1946 than it is today!
There have been numerous campaigns promoting the need for the distribution of free condoms to teenagers. Recently, Dr. Rebecca O'Brien, the lead author of a policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Adolescence said free condoms should be available everywhere and not just in healthcare settings – including shopping malls – all in an effort to combat teen pregnancies.
Apparently, condom availability is not an issue. It should also be pointed out that if teen pregnancies have hit an all-time low at a time when the popular rhetoric focuses on blaming entertainment for the alleged increases in teen pregnancies, then we can logically conclude that it's just that – rhetoric rather than reality.
Negative news always attracts more attention than positive news and the new report showing teen pregnancies hitting a new low will further demonstrate this media tendency. The media is a function of society, which is made up of humans, so it is not entirely the media's fault. Human nature is more to blame. We are more fascinated with negative news than positive news. If your neighbor is caught having an affair, that will probably generate more buzz than if a neighbor's teen makes the honor roll at school.
I may be the only one in the media who will recognize that today's teenagers should be praised for the teen pregnancy rate reaching an all-time low, but my fear is that only if the opposite were true would there be a loud response to the report.
The new report showing the decrease in teen pregnancies does not mean too many teens are not still being reckless with their sexual behavior, but the facts should denounce the propensity to quickly blame entertainment and outside influences for teen pregnancies.
Teen pregnancies and even unexpected adult pregnancies have so much more to do with personal accountability than sex in entertainment or the lack of free condoms for teens. The downfall of American society is led by the deteriorating respect for personal accountability. If something, or someone else is always to blame for bad decisions, then everyone feels better about themselves. But the failure to acknowledge personal accountability has continued to contribute to a feel-good society that is blameless. When blame is not accurately placed – the problem can never be fixed.
However, if there would be criticism of teens if the teen pregnancy rate had hit a new high, then isn't it only fair to give positive reinforcement to teenagers who have pushed the rate of pregnancies among their peers to a new low?