Young moms weigh in on MTV shows deterring teen pregnancies - Dallas News |

Young moms weigh in on MTV shows deterring teen pregnancies

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A popular MTV show has turned out to be an effective cautionary tale for teens. 

Critics worried 16 and Pregnant and its spinoff shows glamorized teen pregnancy, but researchers now say it's inside look at the struggles and sacrifices of teen moms may have prevented tens of thousands of teen births.

Local mothers who gave birth as teens say that, no doubt, if the show is a deterrent and gets teens talking, then it's a good thing.

But they say it's still just a peek into their lives -- a show on what it's really like may be an even better deterrent.

"It's not just about daycare and it's not just about baby daddy drama," said 25-year-old Carly Caraway.

Caraway works at Alley's House in Dallas, empowering teen moms.

She knows they need help, and lots of it. She had her son at 15 years old.

"I was out of work, I was deep into depression," said Caraway. "I was really struggling."

MTV's 16 and Pregnant, which debuted in 2009, follows pregnant high schoolers through their trials and tribulations, relationship drama and financial distress.

Other follow-up spinoff shows like Teen Mom came later.

Researchers found the shows may have prevented more than 20,000 births to teen moms in 2010.

"Anything that causes us to have these conversations with our young people has value," said Caraway.

Tianna Wilds remembers watching the shows as a teen mom herself.

Now 23, she had her son Jeremiah at 14, and she says she could see parts of herself in the show's characters.

"You have all these friends, and you are going here and doing this to being pretty much like an outcast," said Wilds. "You are the kid that everybody side eyes, and whispers and murmurs about."

Wilds says the shows were often a topic of discussion, and if that was the case for other teens, then she sees a benefit.

"They see that it's not all fun and games," she said. "You are not going to be able to go to the mall when you want to."

Both women agree that the shows still sugar coats, to some degree, the lives of teen moms.

An even better deterrent, they say, is less Hollywood and more hardship.

"I see a lot of them with their hair done and their nails done, and a lot of them had really beautiful houses and a lot of family support, and that just didn't seem to fit with the experience that I was having," said Caraway.

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