Pregnancy Pressure: Is MTV's 'Teen Mom' Encouraging Pregnancy for Fame?

Three friends of 'Teen Mom 2' Star Jenelle Evans are pregnant.

Feb. 11, 2011 — -- Critics of the MTV show "Teen Mom2" say that the show is encouraging teen pregnancy after three friends of one of the show's young stars got pregnant.

Jenelle Evans, mother of 1-year-old Jace, found reality fame first on MTV's "Sixteen and Pregnant" and now on "Teen Mom 2."

Recently, eyebrows were raised when it was revealed that three of Evans' teen friends had gotten pregnant. The pregnancies fueled speculation on the Internet that the teenagers got pregnant for fame's sake, labeling them "copycat moms."

Two of the women, 18-year-old Keeley Sanders and 17-year-old Lauren Pruitt, said that they didn't get pregnant for fame and didn't enter a pregnancy pact with one another.

"My pregnancy wasn't influenced by Jenelle. It wasn't influenced by nobody but the wrong decisions," Sanders said.

Sanders is due next month. Pruitt just gave birth to a baby girl last week.

"I didn't want to put my pregnancy out there, it's kind of more personal to me," Pruitt added.

Doctor Logan Levkoff, a teen development expert, said that even if "Teen Mom 2" doesn't glamorize teen pregnancy, there are more examples of pregnant teens in pop culture than ever before.

"The way we bring people, reality stars into fame for really not doing anything has created a culture where it is exciting to be a pregnant teen and the fact of the matter is that most teens who are pregnant do not have the same experience that the girls on those shows have," Levkoff said.

MTV presents their teen mom reality shows as an object lesson for teens in avoiding unwanted pregnancy. Each season, the show follows four teen mothers showing the gritty hardship, both emotional and financial, of teen motherhood.

"Their peers are having great times dating, going to the pizza shop, going to the movies, going to clubs, going to the prom. All of this has stopped," Adrienne Williams-Myers, chief of Preventive Services for the North Side Center for Child Development, said.

"Teen Mom" Encouraging Pregnancy for Fame?

The show is a ratings boom for the network and the young women have become stars, earning six-figure incomes and gracing the covers of tabloids.

"We have our pregnant teens showing up on the cover of magazines, they're getting paid, they're getting endorsement deals and getting calendar deals. That's the message, even if MTV shows all of the hardships, they're still being supportive in so many other ways," Levkoff said.

Their fame hasn't always come from good behavior. Amber Portwood, a teen mom from the show's first season, has been arrested for domestic violence. Evans, 19, was arrested last month for breaking and entering and possession of drugs shortly before "Teen Mom 2" premiered.

According to a recent survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the teen birth rate in the United States declined 6 percent in 2009. The teen birth rate is now at a record low. Levkoff cautions that the teen pregnancy rate is still very high.

"The number of births that teens are having is the lowest, but we have still in the United States the highest rates of teen pregnancy of any developed nation, twice as high in Canada, significantly higher than all of our European counterparts. We're basically on par with Turkey Romania and Bulgaria," Levkoff said.

One million girls will become teen moms this year, struggling with motherhood away from the cameras.

"It's not glitz and glamour, it is hard work," Sanders, a teen mom to be, said.