A Made for TV Story: 16-Year-Old "Good Girl" Gets Pregnant

December 21, 2007

Moving from the perpetually pre-pregnant woman to the teenage pregnancy that caused shockwaves … News that Jamie Lynn Spears, the 16-year-old star of Nickelodeon’s popular “Zoey 101,” is pregnant sent the media into a tailspin this week over The Big Question: “What will parents tell their children?”

Without waiting for Nickelodeon to air a “sex special” next year hosted by Linda Ellerbee — “TV queen of talking to moppets about any subject that makes advertisers cringe!” notes Lisa de Moreas — parents might want to start by discussing the importance of sex education, and what can happen when contraception isn’t used or unexpectedly fails.

The Massachusetts teenagers quoted in this New York Times story on reaction to Spears’ pregnancy get what Spears’s own mom didn’t want to accept: teenagers have sex, even teenagers who make curfew.

Referencing the same NYT article, Tracy Clark Flory makes an excellent point about how Jamie Lynn Spears, who until now had been held up as the antidote to her older sister’s tabloid life, is being shamed.

“There are some dangerous assumptions being made here, namely that having sex at age 16 makes one unclean, a fallen angel, and that contraception never fails,” writes Flory. “So much of the ‘TV’s perfect girl is pregnant’ coverage focuses on the dilemma facing parents: How do they best discuss the news with their kids? It’s an important question, to be sure. I just hope the dichotomous angel vs. slut, smart vs. stupid context in this Times article isn’t representative of how parents are answering that call.”

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