Amy Kramer of The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy recently gathered together 10 teenagers from different walks of life to watch Kayla’s story on “16 and Pregnant.” None of them are parents themselves, but they are all fans of the show.
The entire group marveled at Kayla's big support system, especially since recent episodes of "16 and Pregnant" have shown families that were not as generous or understanding. “It almost seemed perfect,” said Nick, 17. But Allison, also 17, wondered if Kayla’s mom was too supportive, asking “Did her mom ever talk to her about how to prevent it?” Ashley, 14, agreed, saying “It’s right that her mom is helping her because she needs the help, but why was she so cool about it? My mom certainly wouldn’t be…”
Even though Kayla had a loving boyfriend and a helpful family, and even though her situation didn’t seem as difficult as others who have been portrayed on the series, being a teen mom didn’t look easy or desirable to the group. “It’s still hard, you’re still a child yourself,” said Valerie, 15. “High school is complicated enough,” said Mollie, 16. Sara, 16, agreed: “Her whole future is going to be different. You can have everything planned out and then it all has to change.”
Some of these teens also wondered if Kayla’s feelings for J.R. will change. Kaitlin, 17, commented, “She was only really with him for a short while. What will it be like in a year? She can’t explore her options.”
In the episode, Kayla says that she had seen pregnant girls at her high school, but she never thought she would be one of them. That’s not uncommon--many teens, even those who are having (unprotected) sex, never think a pregnancy will happen to them and never consider how it would affect their life. But watching "16 and Pregnant" actually helped this particular group of teens consider how their lives would change. “I wouldn’t be able to go to college far away, I’d have to give up playing baseball," said Ross, 18. Michelle, who is Latina, said she’d probably have to get married: “In my culture that’s what you do.”
Sara said that watching "16 and Pregnant" reminds her why she doesn’t want to be a teen mom. “It’s good contraception, this show.” Michelle, 18, added, “If you don’t know any teen moms, it’s interesting to a viewer to see what it’s like in real life. It’s different than what you think it will be.”