We all agree that teens need honest, accurate information about unplanned pregnancy and its consequences in order to avoid it. Yet I doubt most will find this information in the new ABC Family miniseries The Secret Life of the American Teenager. It features high-school freshman Amy Juergens, who gets pregnant even though she isn’t sure she’s had sex.
After the first hour of the first episode, I found my head reeling as it was bombarded with many stereotypes about teen sexual behavior. For example, I learned that
- the one and only subject on teens’ minds is sex,
- “nice” 15-year-old girls don’t have sex—unless they have a one-night stand that might also be date rape,
- all Christian girls and guys wait to have sex until marriage…
…but if a Christian guy is seduced by the school “slut,” God will forgive him,
- abortion? Don’t even go there, especially in a miniseries,
- guys only like “nice” girls, so don’t wear suggestive clothes that show your navel,
- if you’re a guy whose father has sexually abused you, you will seek revenge by having constant, indiscriminate sex,
- if guys can’t have sex, they will become sterile, and
- willpower and self-esteem are the only answers when it comes to sex
The first episode has one sensible moment. It’s when the actress playing Amy steps out of character and says to the audience: “Teen pregnancy is 100% preventable.” She is 100% correct.
As she speaks, two Web site URLs appear on screen: Stayteen.org, run by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, which collaborated on the series, and Abcfamily.go.com. I doubt that these sites are committed to giving teens honest, complete, reality-based information about sex.
Teens and their parents should instead visit our teen-to-teen Web site, Sexetc.org. I guarantee that all the information on Sexetc.org is honest, accurate and reality-based, and can really help young people.