’16 and Pregnant’ informs — or not

The reality show 16 and Pregnant  encourages teen viewers to work harder to avoid pregnancy, according to a study released by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

. . . teenage viewers tended to look up information about sex in order to better prepare for it. The paper estimates that the shows have helped to reduce overall teenage pregnancy by 5.7 percent since soon after they began running.

Well, maybe not, reports Ed Week.

And yet less than a week before NBER released its study, researchers at Indiana University Bloomington and the University of Utah released a different study of the same shows and found that they actually lead to greater numbers of misinformed teens, who watch “Teen Mom” and think that teenage motherhood is like like living on Easy Street.

“Heavy viewing of teen mom reality programming positively predicted unrealistic perceptions of what it is like to be a teen mother,” they wrote. The study based its conclusions off of interviews with 185 high school students about perceptions of reality TV and teen pregnancy.

Teen Mom made Farrah Abraham a celebrity, the second study complains. Now 22, Abraham is earning a living through a sex tape with a porn star, a line of sex toys, etc. You might say she’s a professional slut. Will that look like an attractive lifestyle to teen girls? I certainly hope not.

Should public schools teach 13-year-olds about grinding?

Pregnancy bias — in a women’s studies class

A pregnant college student asked if she could make up tests or assignments missed due to medical appointments or labor. Her women’s studies professor said no. A dean told her to drop the class. Stephanie Stewart sued City University of New York for pregnancy discrimination, winning back her scholarship, repayment for the make-up class and a new policy protecting pregnant students.

Pregnancy vs. college graduation

Community colleges are encouraging students to prevent unplanned pregnancies to raise their odds of completing a degree.

Teen birth rate falls again

The teen birth rate has fallen by 44 percent from 1991 to 2010, reports the Centers for Disease Control. Births for teens 15 to 17 years old dropped 12 percent from 2009 to 2010.

Birth rates ranged from 10.9 per 1,000 Asian-American teens to 23.5 for non-Hispanic whites, 51.5 for non-Hispanic blacks and 55.7 for Hispanics. Rates are declining for all groups, but the black teen birth rate has fallen the fastest.

Teens are more likely to use contraception “at first initiation of sex” and to use condoms and hormonal methods, reports the CDC.

Years ago, a Rand study said the best birth control for teenage girls was a “realistic” plan to attend college. Now that nearly all teens plan to go to college — not always realistically — they may be more likely to listen to pregnancy prevention advice.

Candidate riles 'Mount Pregnant' High

A Republican candidate for governor of California, Steve Poizner is coming out with a book called Mount Pleasant: My Journey from Creating a Billion-Dollar Company to Teaching at a Struggling Public High School.  April Fool’s Day is the publication date. Teachers at San Jose’s Mount Pleasant High are angry about Poizner’s portrayal of their school as a gang-ridden dump with a high pregnancy rate, reports the Sacramento Bee.

“Mount Pleasant is a rough place,” the jacket reads. “There’s no money to fix broken copy machines, burned-out lightbulbs go unchanged, and student pregnancies are so common that the school’s nickname is Mount Pregnant.”

Now the state insurance commissioner, Poizner is running a losing campaign against Meg Whitman, also an ex-Silicon Valley CEO. He uses his school experience — he taught a civics class in 2002-03 –  in the campaign.

Mount Pleasant High, which is about two-thirds Hispanic with 40 percent of students qualifying for a free lunch, is not considered an especially tough school by San Jose standards. It scores below average for California high schools (4 out of 10) for state high schools, but above average (7) for those with similar demographics. That doesn’t mean there are no gang kids or pregnant girls at MP — or unfixed copiers. Its district, East Side Union, which pays the highest teacher salaries in the county, is broke.