MTV has done more for the US teen birthrate than decades of policy

“Between 1991 and 2008 teen pregnancy in this country had an annual decline of just 2.5% a year. In the next four years, coinciding with airing of the programs, the decline tripled to 7.5% per year. The study showed that exposure to the television shows had a sizable effect with 5.7% of the overall 17.6% decline being directly attributable to the show. That means almost one-third of the dramatic total decrease in teen pregnancy can be linked not to state and local public health efforts, not to the work of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unwanted Pregnancy, but to a television program created for profit and primarily known for churning out fodder for tabloid magazine spreads and future sex tapes. That makes MTV reality television the single biggest factor in bringing the teen pregnancy rate to its lowest point in decades. The Teen Mom effect has a greater impact than condom exchanges, traditional sex education and abstinence-only education combined. Public health policy has been trumped by the accidental triumph of MTV.”