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The Secret Life of the American Teenager: appropriate for 12-year-olds?

by Jane Boursaw, posted Jul 5th 2009 9:38AM
The Secret Life of the American TeenagerFor my daughter's twelfth birthday, she decided to have four of her friends sleep over, and it turned out to be the same night that The Secret Life of the American Teenager season two was premiering. OK, she actually sort of planned it that way. All but one of her friends is allowed to watch the show, and she managed to talk her mom into it "just this once." I totally respect that. I write a family movie column and have kids of my own, so I'm fairly in tune with what is and isn't appropriate for various age groups.

I watched a few episodes of Secret Life last season, and while the subject matter isn't geared for little kids, it seemed OK for kids twelve and older. But this season, it seems like the show has really kicked the sex talk up several notches. Yes, I know it's a show about a teenager who gets pregnant and is forced to deal with the consequences. I'm ok with that. It shows kids that there are consequences, and that sex shouldn't be taken lightly.

But just about every relationship, both teens and adults, on this particular episode was centered around sex -- having it, not having it, getting pregnant, avoiding pregnancy. It made me uncomfortable to think it was on ABC Family and that kids my daughter's age were watching it. I'm not worried about my own daughter -- we talk about everything. I'm more worried about the kids whose parents never broach the subject.

Still, as I watched the show with the girls a couple of weeks ago, I asked them whether it made them think about having sex or want to run in the opposite direction. They unanimously agreed that the show turns them away from the idea of sex. That's a good thing. To me, it's better to get this stuff out in the open and talk about it, rather than how they did it back when I was a kid. No one talked about anything, and a lot of kids experimented and got into trouble.

What do you think? Is The Secret Life of the American Teenager appropriate viewing for twelve-year-olds? If not, at what age (if any) should kids watch a show like this?

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Jamie

I am worried about my 16 yr old watching this show. It has gotten out of control and all the worlds in the script are sex... oh wait they throw in a.. the, and, Amy and Ben every once in a while. What the hell is wrong with ABC Family??? I was a teen mom and I can not even believe this family station shows stupid teen age show about how good sex is. If I blush while watching it with my kids... IT IS WRONG!

May 03 2011 at 12:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ME

SOME FRIENDS OF OURS JUST RECENTLY MOVED OUT. THE 15 & 12 YEAR OLD USE TO WATCH THE SHOW WEEKLY. MY HUSBAND AND I COMPLETELY DISAPROVE OF THE SHOW. THERE ARE MANY OTHER WAYS TO DISCUSS SEX AND TEEN PREGNANCY WITH YOUR CHILDREN. CHILDREN SHOULD BE EDUCATED BUT PROTECTED. EVERYOTHER WORD WAS SEX AND THEY EVEN MADE A COMMENT ABOUT A DIRTY VAGINA. COMPLETELY UNAPPROPRIATE! IT SOFT PORN FOR THE KIDS. IT EXPOSES THEM TO FEELINGS THAT THEY NORMALLY WOULDNT HAVE AT SUCH A YOUNG AGE. THE BIBLE SAYS "I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! (Revelation 3:15) IT IS NOT BAD TO BE SHELTERED. 12 YEAR OLDS ARE STILL CHILDREN!!! MOST HAVENT EVEN HIT PUBERTY!!! LET THEM BE LITTLE. THEY ONLY NEED TO KNOW THE THINGS THAT ARE APPROPRIATE FOR THEIR MATURITY LEVEL. IT WAS OUR FRIENDS DAD THAT FINALLY SAT DOWN AND WATCHED LESS THAN 5 MINUTES AND AFTER HEARING THE DIALOG HE MADE THEM SHUT IT OFF AND BANNED IT. IF YOUR CHILDREN ARE RAISED WITH DISCAPLINE AND RESPECT THEN THEY WILL LISTEN TO YOU AND OBEY YOU. BE OPEN AND HONEST BUT STAY AT THERE LEVEL. DONT MAKE THEM GROW UP FASTER THAN THEY HAVE TO. EVEN 90210, DAWSONS CREEK & 7TH HEAVEN DELT WITH MANY TOPICS BUT THERE WAS A STORY TO GO ALONG WITH IT. THESE WERE SHOWS PARENTS COULD WATCH WITH THEIR TEENS. SECRET LIFE IS JUST WAY TOO MUCH............

September 09 2009 at 4:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sophie

India Eisley is such a horrible actress.
NOT a quality "family" show....I couldn't stand watching it it was stupid.
What happened to good American television. I thinks its ABC gone wrong! Just horrible!

September 07 2009 at 7:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Laura

I have never been married, so I have never had children. I have also never watched this show, and will never watch it, anyway. I think this show actually promotes teenage pregnancies and out-of-wedlock births. We have enough of that in reality. We do not need a television show to glamorize it and make a bad thing seem okay. This never should have aired, anyway.

September 05 2009 at 11:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Laura's comment
sophiesoph1502

This show does not promote teenage sex. A lot of teen pregnancies happen because of the lack of knowledge about teen pregnancy and how to have protective sex. Having shows like this on the air allows children of all ages who have been curious about sex to become more educated. After every episode and during there is an announcement from the teenagers within the show saying to ask your parents these questions and parents ask your children. This show is a proactive way to educating young kids on sex and pregnancy.

April 20 2011 at 11:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tom

the thing is about this show its suppose to be based on real life and real situations. yes getting pregnant as a teen is real some teens even say they are in love after one look at each other. but how many teens you know have a rich boyfriend that is willing to pay for your baby. they need to make this show more realistic. teen fathers for the most part dont stay so why would your rich boyfriend most guys run away from a pregnant girl.

August 31 2009 at 10:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rainn

The Secret Life of the American Teenager is one of my favorite tv show. i watch The Secret Life of the American Teenager every season and episodes.


August 04 2009 at 5:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
sam

i defenetly think 12 is and aprpriate age..im 12 and ive been watching it since the first season ..so i was 11 when i started watching it

July 28 2009 at 11:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Marie

The first season of this show started out pretty good, with a story line of a young teen who made a bad decision (sex before marriage) and is now dealing with the consequences. The second season has turned into a trash, plain and simple. Every single character on the show is incessantly talking about or having sex. Just to name a few, take Anne Juergens (Molly Ringwald) who is separated from her husband and has sex with a first time date and now is pregnant herself!!!! Let's remember she is still married, has a 15 y/o that just had a baby and also has a 13 y/o daughter....great role model Anne, way to go. I see a future episode focused on who this baby's father is, cause it seems only the 13 y/o knows. Or, how about Leo Boykewich (Steve Schirripa), who unbenknowst to him is dating a prostitute and a prostitute that was pursued by the challenged son from the the Christian family. Wait a minute, don't forget Dr. Marshall Bowman (John Schneider) the only Christian man on the show following God's word and instilling good morals and values in his daughter Grace....they killed him off and his Born-Again Christian daughter who was saving herself for marriage (important message for young girls) has had sex. Even the Christian pastor is condoning sex before marriage.....what????? How about last week's episode when Adrian (Francia Raisa) is talking about what Bologna, Italy is known for.....oral sex!!! I could go on and on about the characters, plots, poor messages and shamefulness of this show, but I would find myself thoroughly exhausted. So, what I've finally done is decided not to watch the show, deleted it from my DVR recording list and I encourage all of you to do the same. Remember, garbage in, garbage out.

July 20 2009 at 11:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Leanne

I think this is silly, sorry but i'm 16 and 12 year olds arn't little kids. They know about sex, they're not dumb. This programme shows them the consequences and will most likely make them less wanting to have sex.
And for the perants that asks their kids if they're thinking of having sex, don't its just cringing, they have their friends to talk to if they want to.
I really don't like it when people treat people around this age like their babys but they know far more than you think.
(: x

July 13 2009 at 9:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
hastheworldgonecrazy

Take this crap OFF the air. Do you think we really need another show promoting teen pregnancy? What a waste of time. This past April one of my 13 year old students gave birth to a baby boy. She is having an extremely, extremely difficult time trying to raise her son with her 14 year old father. teen pregnanacy is NOT glamorous in the least bit. Parents sit down and talk with your kids instead watching this junk on tv.

July 11 2009 at 10:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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