The Juno Effect

By KBJR News 1

August 6, 2010 Updated Sep 3, 2008 at 11:31 AM CDT

With controversy brewing over Bristol Palin's pregnancy... it's something people are getting used to seeing in the media.

Many wonder if all this attention is making pregnancy a little too enticing to young girls.

Tonight Tiffany Tarrolly takes a look at the difference between glamorized TV pregnancy and the real thing.

"I'm Pregnant"

Possibly among a Parent's - and teenager's most dreaded words.
Emily Gertsema used those very same words when she was only 16 - years - old.

"I was pregnant all through my junior year and actually stayed in school up until my due date," Gertsema said.

Time magazine wrote about a possible contagion effect when 17 Massachusetts teens became pregnant at the same time earlier this year.

They termed it the "Juno Effect."

"The Juno effect is how media glamorizes pregnancy and how it's also... pregnancy is also redemptive of any past problems," said Kristelle Miller, an Adolescent Psychology Professor at U.M.D.

"I think that they try and make kind of like a joke about it and those movies are just kind of funny, haha, well, she got pregnant and this is all the funny stuff that happens," Gertsema said, "But you know it's not really funny to wake up in the morning and feel like you're going to throw up. It's not funny to not be able to fit in any of the cute clothes that you used to be able to wear or to gain thirty pounds. It's not it just comes off as completely different."

A study by Jane Brown, a journalism professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill shows teens between the ages of 12 and 14 who consume sexually-centered media, are twice as likely to become sexually active by the time they are 16.

"I think watching that kind of stuff kind of desensitizes you to it so it's it's almost like ok well if everybody on T.V. is doing it, why is it that bad for me to do and I think that teens don't really think about the consequences of what could actually happen," said Gertsema.

Kristelle Miller says that's a logic leap we should be wary of.

"We have to be cautious in making this conclusion because we know that on average today teens are waiting longer to have sex and teenage pregnancy has actually gone down," she said, "It's peer influence that would more greatly predict, or relate to teens becoming pregnant. For example if your friend has a baby bump, then you're wanting to have a baby bump as well."

Gertsema, agrees that peer pressure is enormous for teens.

Like Juno, Gertsema also considered adoption.

But when the baby comes, she says you grow up in a hurry.

"I knew it would be hard work but I wanted her to be raised by her own family. It was just hard for me to think about going through everything I went through with her inside of me that I really wanted to keep that going throughout life," said Gertsema

Emily's daughter Jazlyn is now 15 - months old.

"I can't live like the normal life. I can't go out and do whatever I want to when I feel like it and I have to make sure that I maintain my composure and always be the kind of person that I want her to be which it's kind of a hard thing to do," Gertsema said.

It's tough she says, but living with her parents, she and Jazlyn get a lot of love and support.

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