16&P: ‘It won’t happen to me’ makes for poor birth control

Season three of 16 & Pregnant started with a wedding between 16-year-old Brooke and Cody, who had been dating two years and decided to get married when Brooke was three months pregnant. Brooke gave birth to baby Brody, and Brooke and Cody worked opposite schedules to ensure they both got their high school diplomas but also still could afford the baby’s necessities.

As it is now season three, the themes I have discussed before repeat themselves, and it’s not entirely necessary for me to revisit and repeat that getting married just because you’re having a baby is a poor decision, or that teen pregnancy risk is higher if you were the child of teenage parents, or countless other themes that were found in this episode. There was, however, one theme I’d like to expound on, and it involves condoms under the bathroom sink.

Brooke was not like the typical teen moms on 16 & Pregnant who simply weren’t educated about contraception or were too afraid to ask their parents about it or afraid their parents would find it — Brooke’s mom was a teen mom herself, and she was totally open about contraception and educating Brooke about using it properly.

Brooke’s mom showed Brooke how to put a condom on (using a cucumber), and she kept condoms under the bathroom sink. But Brooke’s mom’s own teenage pregnancy struggles and stories, education, and openness about offering contraception didn’t stop Brooke from getting pregnant. Abstinence-only education proponents will argue that her mom’s open attitude encouraged Brooke to have sex, but I disagree.

A few months back, I wrote about a study that showed that when provided advanced supplies of the morning-after pill, women did not use it significantly more than women who did not have a ready supply of the pill. This contradicted the main thought that women often didn’t use the morning-after pill because actually going to the pharmacy to get the pill stood in the way (whether because it was inconvenient or they were afraid of being judged).

The main theory that explains both these scenarios — which Dr. Drew actually mentioned in his Teen Mom finale special last week — is that most people think, “It won’t happen to me.” The “heat of the moment” excuse works for not using condoms, but that’s no excuse for not taking a pill after the fact. I think an underlying and common reason that people have unprotected sex is that they don’t think pregnancy is a possible consequence for them.

This is especially true if people have had unprotected sex before without it resulting in a pregnancy. The last season of 16 & Pregnant began with Janelle, who used that very excuse — her and her boyfriend had sex a number of times without a condom while she wasn’t using birth control and she hadn’t gotten pregnant before — so she figured it would be fine to do again. The more people have unprotected sex without getting pregnant, the more immune they think they are from it.

I’m not sure of a great way to combat this mentality — lots of people have the “invincible” mentality and partake in risky behavior habitually because they never see any consequences. For example, take wearing a seat belt — it’s a preventative safety measure, so that if you have a car accident, you reduce your risk of injury. The seat belt only does its job, however, if it is actually used, and some people — especially if they haven’t gotten in a car accident ever or in a long time — neglect to use the seat belt because they don’t think they’ll get in a car accident.

People often use the logic of, “I did this once before without consequence, so it’s fine if I do it again,” but logically that doesn’t hold water because the circumstances will be entirely different each time you do whatever event. Sure those sperm didn’t fertilize that egg the first time around — does that mean they never will just because they failed initially? Of course not — that’s why safety measures are precautions — actions taken before something undesired happens, just in case something undesired happens.

I’m going to ponder how to break through the wall of invincibility — suggestions are welcome.


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2 Responses to “16&P: ‘It won’t happen to me’ makes for poor birth control”

  1. cocktailsattiffanys Says:

    I agree with you. I think shows like Teen Mom, need to continue to make sure we aren’t glamorizing teen pregnancy and show that there are true consequences, to people of all races, shapes, sizes, etc.


  2. Michelle Morocco Says:

    Teens having sex is a huge topic that just won’t ever be agreed upon. The most important disagreement is how teenagers are being taught about sexual activity. There’s sexual education which includes discussion of safe sex and abstinence. Then there is abstinence-only programs that teach teenagers the consequences of having sex before marriage and these programs teach teenagers to say “no”. Abstinence-only programs inform the teenager of all the emotional, mental, physical, and psychological effects of having sex before marriage. One research study showed that teenagers who are taught abstinence-only methods tend to wait longer to have sex than teenagers taught sexual education. Some people think abstinence-only programs are not properly approachable. For example, some people claim they scare teenagers and make them feel unhappy or impure. Also, by leaving out information about safe sex teenagers are more likely to become pregnant or get a disease when they do become sexually active. On the other hand, sexual education informs teenagers of both abstinence and if they are already sexually active, it informs teenagers of safe sex and contraceptives. Sexual education courses acknowledge the will of teenagers and that they make their own decisions. Yet, instead of scaring them away from sex, this program aims to protect the teenagers from teen pregnancy and diseases. Parents are not sure anymore how to approach their teenagers about sexual activity, so sexual education helps parents become involved with their teenagers and steps in for parents by teaching correct, safe ways to be sexually active. In my opinion, sexual education courses taught me all about condoms, safe sex, and when I am mature enough to make the decision to be sexually active or not. I felt there was no pressure when learning about sex through sexual education. I felt I had more control and could wait until I was mature enough and the situation was respectful. I believe that the sexual education course has a more approachable way in getting through to teenagers, therefore the results are significant and effective.

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