Usually if the TV is on in my house it is because someone else turned it on or I just wanted some background noise.
Last week while on my lunch break, I flipped on the TV just to break the silence and came across a program that left me feeling pretty disgusted: “16 and Pregnant” on MTV.
I’d heard of the show but never watched it. After all, who really watches MTV? I sure don’t.
For about 30 minutes my eyes were glued to the screen. I was appalled by the lack of respect these teenage girls had for their parents, partners and, really, themselves. And it saddened me to see these uneducated children giving birth to innocent babies.
One girl, named Farrah, had a baby and then somehow thought she was going to go right back to being a regular high school student and dating.
“My baby’s daddy isn’t in the picture,” Farrah said at one point in the show.
Minutes later, Farrah was getting ready to go on a date. She pawned the baby off on her mother, lied about her intentions of possibly entering a relationship with a new guy and headed off to get ice cream with an older teenage boy. The big upside to the deal was that this boy said he is “cool with” Farrah having a child. Translation: He knows she will put out.
At this point I felt bad for Farrah’s mother, but then again, she did name her child “Farrah.” She might as well have named her “Sex Kitten.”
So Farrah meets up with the new potential boy toy. The two are talking about their plans for the future and all that “getting to know each other” jazz. The boy tells Farrah he is thinking about going to college and becoming an ophthalmologist.
It’s apparent Farrah is confused.
“What’s that?” she asks.
For a moment the boy was clearly annoyed with her stupidity. Then his hormones must have taken over again because he calmly explained what “ophthalmologist” meant and went on with the date.
“It’s like an eye doctor,” he said.
“Oh, well you should just say that so people know what you are talking about,” she replied.
And this girl has reproduced. Super.
Nevada has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the nation even though the national rate has decreased ever-so-slightly in recent years. Sexually transmitted diseases, some of them life-threatening, are rampant.
Parents aren’t talking to their children about sex. Hell, a lot of parents don’t even pay attention to their children.
In Washoe County, the procedure has been for parents to “opt in” for their child to participate in sex-ed classes. Fortunately, according to school officials, the participation rate is close to 100 percent.
But sexual-ed programs in other Nevada high schools, especially in some of the rural areas, are sub-par, at best. Some Nevada school districts accepted funding from the federal government for abstinence-only programs that generally don’t offer factual information about contraception and protection from STDs.
While I will agree teaching children to wait until they are in a committed relationship to have intercourse is a good idea, most sensible people realize how unrealistic it is to believe teens and young adults actually will do that.
“I’m sorry, I don’t want to have sex with you even though I have raging hormones that I don’t understand and I think I am in love with you (even though I probably don’t understand what that means yet) because my mommy said I have to wait until marriage.”
It’s not likely most teens are going to say something like that, so it’s better to arm them with information, condoms, birth control and human papillomavirus vaccinations.
Alison Gaulden of the Reno-area Planned Parenthood told me studies have indicated the more young people know about sex and diseases, the less likely they are to engage in risky behaviors and the more likely they are to wait to have sex.
It makes perfect sense as I reflect on my teenage years in a town with a large religious population that strictly advocated abstinence until marriage and thought giving their daughters birth control was a “license to have sex.” Not that I have a problem with religious people, but jokes were always circulating about “the bishop’s daughter” because often the girls that came from very religious families were among the most sexually active. And they often got pregnant and/or contracted diseases. Of course, that wasn’t always the case but there was a reason the boys all joked about it.
I turned 29 years old over the weekend. I don’t have any children because I realize I’m not able to care for them, financially or otherwise. Any 16-year-old who thinks they are ready to raise a child is seriously out of their mind.
“Education, birth control, condoms and vaccines. Education, birth control, condoms and vaccines.”
And one more time for anyone who didn’t get it the first two go-rounds: Education, birth control, condoms and vaccines … oh my!
Jessica Carner is a reporter with the Sparks Tribune. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.