By Lauren Mann of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy
Now that we've come to the close of "Teen Mom 2" Season 4, it's time to reflect on the ups and downs in the lives of the cast. They've grown from unsure pregnant teens into young adults parenting toddlers, with high school behind them and the rest of their lives ahead. Let's take a look back at what they've been through this season:
Chelsea grew up a lot. After obtaining her GED, she finally started cosmetology school. Less than 2 percent of teen mothers earn a college degree by age 30, so this achievement was big for Chels. Though she took some time off, by the end of the final episode she kept her promise and was back in school. She also went back on a long-acting reversible contraceptive, the IUD, after a pregnancy scare with Adam, and has finally moved on from him completely...we hope.
Kailyn made major strides as well. Her relationship with Javi moved quickly, but their marriage means more financial stability, insurance coverage and a family environment for Isaac. There's no doubt he's a great influence on both Kail and Isaac. Though Kail and Jo hit a rough patch early on, counseling has helped. They're able to speak to each other with more civility and respect now, and hopefully that will continue as they deal with custody issues should Kailyn need to relocate.
Leah's had a stressful season, to say the least, with parenting two toddlers, recovering from a miscarriage, managing Ali's continuing health issues and having to choose between Corey and Jeremy. She and Jeremy had a whirlwind relationship, and the miscarriage was devastating for both of them, but it also showed them they might not be ready to support another baby -- especially given Leah's residual feelings for Corey. She had to make a tough choice; not just for herself but for her girls. Corey is their father, but ultimately he wasn't able to give her the same commitment Jeremy could. Despite all of the romantic drama, everyone came together to deal with Ali's health issues, which is their greatest achievement.
Jenelle started the season eight months sober, dating Gary and getting along with her mom. That all seems hard to believe now, because after Kieffer was released from jail, everything went downhill. Amid fights and breakups, Jenelle slipped back into her old ways and ended up in debt, abusing drugs, arguing with her mother and unable to care for her son. Seeing her addicted to heroin in the last episode was scary, but at least Jace is safe with Barbara. We hope Jenelle gets the help she needs and comes out of this dangerous phase of her life okay.
With all that's happened, it's no wonder three out of four teens who have watched "Teen Mom" and "16 and Pregnant" say the shows help them better understand pregnancy and parenting. Teen pregnancy has declined by almost 40 percent over the past 20 years, and the majority of teens attribute that decrease to more media attention focused on the issue. But, we still have a long way to go. Parenthood is filled with challenges that never stop -- they only evolve. If you're not ready to become a parent, preventing pregnancy is possible -- just make sure you're protected. For more information on teen pregnancy, contraception, relationships, love and waiting to have sex, check out StayTeen.org. To help find a method of birth control that's right for you, visit Bedsider.org.
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