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July 28, 2014

Does 'Teen Mom' Exploit Vulnerable Girls?

by PopEater Staff, posted Mar 30th 2011 5:20AM
Amber Portwood and Jenelle EvansAfter yet another scandal broke this past weekend involving a 'Teen Mom' star, experts are asking whether appearing on the show makes the girls more unstable.

'Teen Mom 2' star Jenelle Evans was arrested for assault after a video surfaced of her brutally beating another teen. She's also been charged with drug possession and breaking and entering.

Her fellow 'Teen Mom,' Amber Portwood, was arrested in December and spent 24 hours in jail on charges of attacking her baby daddy in front of their two-year-old daughter.

Now experts are raising the question of whether 'Teen Mom' is to blame for taking obviously unstable teenagers and thrusting them into a spotlight they are not ready to handle.

"These are not the most stable girls to begin [with]," says clinical psychologist and HealthGuru.com contributor Jeffrey Gardere. "They have a lot of issues and stresses from being teenagers who are pregnant, and now they are in the public eye. Some of them are making a lot of money, and that is a stress in itself, which can cause some real behavioral issues."

Ready or not, the young parents featured on the show have become celebrities. They are landing big magazine deals and reportedly being paid $60,000 a season. In our celebrity-obsessed culture, where Charlie Sheen is paid to behave like a jerk, and regularly reaps the benefits of his wild antics, these young girls not only think they can do whatever they want, they believe their bad behavior will make them famous.

"These people and their children are pawns in the commodification of parenthood," says parenting expert Ellen Rittberg, author of '35 Things Your Teen Won't Tell You, So I Will.'

"The pursuit of fame has become a goal for them and created a distortion of reality. You can't blame them in a sense. They're young and they have a panoply of problems."

Adding fame to the poor impulse control that got these young women into their unfortunate situation to begin with is a dangerous combination.

"Putting them in the spotlight is extremely dangerous because these are young, impulsive girls," says 'Cult of Celebrity' author Cooper Lawrence. "Instead of thinking, they just act, and with fame comes the ability to act with impunity. Nobody stops you."

Cooper adds that research suggests that fame has the same effects on the brain as addictive drugs. You get a little, you want more ... it's a "feel good all the time" way to live.

"Recent studies show that reality stars are the most narcissistic population by far, more than actors, musicians...more than anybody....so fame and narcissism together make a lethal cocktail, leaving people, especially teenagers, feeling entitled, being completely self-focused and lacking in empathy," Lawrence says.

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Vince Averello

I know this is nitpicky but is there any chance you could put quotes around 'baby daddy' since that's a horrible colloquialism and not an actual term for anything.

Yeah, nitpicky

March 30 2011 at 7:59 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Vince Averello's comment
Erich

I agree. Is it too difficult to say "the father of her child" when you appear to be reporting news?

March 30 2011 at 8:55 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Erich's comment
Vince Averello

I'm willing to accept "her baby's daddy" which is only two more characters.

March 30 2011 at 10:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down

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