You could see it coming in January, in the wake of the surprise box office hit Juno and the pregnancy of Jamie Lynn Spears. ABC's Deborah Roberts observed on Good Morning America that, “...teen pregnancy is the new hot topic in Hollywood....”
As surely as gestation follows conception,
If conception took place in January, then
The Baby Borrowers features unmarried teenage couples living in a house, taking care of real children as if they were parents. Before the couples get the children, they live in the house together for two days, without chaperones, indulging in what one participant likened to a “honeymoon.” Nevertheless, NBC is peddling the show as a public service, a form of “birth control,” because it shows teen viewers how difficult raising a child can be.
The Secret Life of the American Teenager makes no such pretense of social conscience. The show is populated by a cast of characters with one thing on their minds. Though Secret Life centers on a 15-year-old mother-to-be, the creator of the show, Brenda Hampton, told The Hollywood Reporter, “I don't have anything to say about the issue of teen pregnancy. I'm just telling a story about a girl who happens to get pregnant.”
Critics have panned the shows, but ratings were good for both opening episodes. If viewership remains strong, ABC and NBC will soon be fattening their bank accounts. But have they thought how much their profits could cost society as a whole?
Television shows depicting sexually active teens are likely to encourage teen viewers to become sexually active themselves. Teens will abstain from sex only if parents and schools establish high expectations for them and teach them that sex outside of marriage is morally wrong. Watching other teens engage in promiscuous sex, even characters on a TV show, will desensitize teens to moral considerations and reduce behavioral expectations. Why shouldn't they do it if everybody else is? Why shouldn't they do it if everybody expects them to? This is the prime reason that “comprehensive” sex education is a colossal failure.