Genre: Reality TV
TV Rating: TV-PG
Other Choices: Teen Mom, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, I'm Having Their Baby
Available On: Online
Common Sense Says: Gritty consequences of teen pregnancy + contraception info.
Common Sense Rates It:
Parents need to know
Parents need to know that High School Moms, a docuseries featuring teen mothers going to high school, is nonjudgmental, but deals with mature topics, including teen pregnancy, absentee fatherhood, and on occasion, addiction. It also underscores the importance of getting an education for a better future. Some of the students can be defiant or have anger issues (words like "crap" and "hell" are sometimes audible), but their mentors establish firm boundaries. Parents may want to watch with their teens as a way of initiating conversations about some of the things discussed here.
- Families can talk about the pressures teens face when it comes to having sex. Why does the United States have such a high number of teen pregnancies, despite efforts to educate people about the consequences of having sex? What are the consequences of sexual behavior aside from getting pregnant?
- What is the connection between the high number of teen pregnancies in the United States and the messages the media sends about sex and sexual behavior? In what ways can the media be used to reduce these numbers? Do you think this series succeeds in helping to do this?
What's the story?
HIGH SCHOOL MOMS is a docuseries that follows young women at Florence Crittenton High, a special school operating as part of a Denver nonprofit program designed to support teen families. Cameras follow as the young women earn their high school education and get excited about things like prom while struggling with the physical and emotional aspects of pregnancy, raising young children, and facing a range of family and financial problems. It's not easy journey, but the teachers and administrators, like Principal Ricardo Leblanc-Esparza, do their best to firmly guide them in a way that is sensitive to their needs while empowering them to build a healthy and sustainable future for themselves and their children.
Is it any good?
Unlike shows like 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom, High School Moms focuses more on the gritty consequences young women face as a result of getting pregnant and becoming parents at such a young age instead of voyeuristic relationship drama. It also underscores the importance of getting an education, and how important it is to provide an academic but supportive place to study in order to keep pregnant students from dropping out of school and becoming trapped in a cycle of poverty and disempowerment.Not surprisingly, it deals with a lot of mature themes, including contraception, drug use, and absentee fathers. But these topics are not gratuitous, and shed light on the harsh realities of everyday life for teenage mothers. It will give young viewers a lot to think about, and can be used as a way to begin conversations with teens about some of the life-long consequences of having sex.
The Good Stuff
Messages: The series underscores the daily challenges that come with being a pregnant teen and/or teenage mom, and how this impacts teens' ability to get a high school education. It also highlights the importance of getting an education to become successful in life.
Role Models: The young women have made (and sometimes continue to make) mistakes, but are trying to get an education and empower themselves. They don't always behave appropriately in a classroom, but high school faculty and administrators establish boundaries. The teens' parents aren't always in the picture.
What to watch out for
Violence Some of the girls have anger issues and are defiant when dealing with authority figures. Some of the teenagers' partners or baby's fathers are arrested or in jail.
Sex: Pregnancy is a major theme in the show. Various forms of contraception are discussed. Some teens are shown in various stages of labor.
Language: Words like "hell," "crap," and "ho" are audible.
Consumerism: Apple computers are visible, but the logo is slightly blurred.
Drinking, drugs & smoking: Some of the young women have parents who are recovering addicts.