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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Outbreak (04/07/11)

TITLE: Baby, Books, or Both?
By Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom


Slamming her office door, Nurse Becky stomped to her desk and sat down with her head in her hands. The counselor, Holly, popped in through the adjoining office, “I take it Tim talked to you about the school board’s idea.”

Becky’s face flamed red, “Because of budget cuts, the school is willing to subject students to such appalling garbage. It‘s outrageous!”

Nodding her head, Holly handed Becky a cup of coffee. “Maybe this will help. One might think with something of this magnitude, the very least they should've done is consult with the two people who know what is best for the students. But no, you’re just a nurse and I’m only a school counselor." Holly set her cup down and coffee splashed over the memo. “Well, at least Tim handed you the notice; mine was stuffed in my mailbox”

“Did you know the school board had started planning this months ago? Since June TEEN-TV has been advertising open casting calls at Brooksville High for their show, Baby, Books or Both?I had no idea the board accepted money to have casting calls on campus. I‘m furious, as the school nurse and counselor, we’ve worked diligently to keep teen pregnancy down. Now they pull a stunt like this. You wait and see it‘s going to be a disaster.”

Becky walked to the filing cabinet, “Here are the stats; last year there were one Senior, two Juniors, and one ninth-grader who were pregnant. The Senior graduated and had her baby this summer. However, the other three had just found out they were pregnant at the end of the term. They’re all due between the end of November and January. If Teen-TV wanted to do a show documenting teen pregnancy and problems young parents face, why didn’t they just contact these girls´ parents?”

Holly rolled her eyes, “I try to keep track of the shows my kids watch. Baby, Books or Both? is starting its fourth season. Instead of showing kids how tough it is to be a teen parent and graduate high school, this show has glamorized the mothers; they‘ve become Reality-TV stars overnight.”

Hearing the clamor of anxious students, Becky glanced at her co-worker, “Let the day begin; I’m doing the pregnancy tests, discussing each teen’s options, then if need be, sending them to you to talk more. I pray you won‘t be too busy. The casting call invited students from the tri-state area; hopefully there won‘t be too many positive results. In 2010, we had the lowest ratio of teen pregnancies in the state. I have a haunting feeling that won’t be true again for quite some time.”

Opening the door, Nurse Becky’s eyes bulged as she quickly estimated fifty girls. With great efficiency, she and her college-student nurses asked each girl a bevy of questions, led the patient into the bathroom with a specimen cup and instructions to urinate and place the container on the shelf, then she waited to be called into Nurse Becky’s private office for the results.

At the end of the long morning, Becky and Holly sat down for lunch. “That was horrible, I had an 8th grader who tested positive; when I asked her if she knew what she was going to do, she looked at me like I was crazy and announced her parents would be excited because the show pays more for pre-teens. It took all of my will power not to burst into tears. I still think we should refer the case to Child Protection Services.”

Holly nodded and reached for a tissue, “I had one girl come into the office sobbing, so I sat her down to make sure she knew and understood all of her options. She was crying because she wasn’t pregnant! I guess she had tried all summer with several different boys; I asked if you had referred her to the clinic for STD testing. Well, two of the TV producers heard the girl telling her friends after she left my office.”

Becky patted her friend’s arm, “You must have been furious.”

“Oh, Sweetheart, don‘t you know. The producer told his lackey, ‘We could do a show called STDs in Middle School.’ Can you imagine?”

“Not after I present the stats to the health department. I did 77 pregnancy tests today alone, with 45 positives. How sad that television can start a pregnancy epidemic. Now they want to condone STDs? Not during my lifetime! I plan on stopping TEEN-TV.”

“Count me in.”

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This article has been read 633 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Noel Mitaxa 04/14/11
Your pain comes through so credibly against the cheapening of life as market forces look for the next gimmick to exploit! This is a totally credible scenario, however regrettable it is.
Your title summed it up so well.
Patricia Protzman04/16/11
Well written, very appropriate title. You can trace back to when prayer was removed from schools in 1962 and see the progressive, downward spiral of morals in our society.
Kathleen Langridge04/16/11
Powerful treatment of a painful reality. I thought it was a good approach. My only qualm was in the supposition that the nurse and counselor should "know best." Certainly their indignation at the whole episode is spot on but maybe not by stating that they above all others should "know best." It is a very strong statement that rattles many cages. Really a small point in the scheme of things. All in all, well written emotive piece.
Helen Curtis04/16/11
These days I would not be surprised at all if some money hungry executive did try this. A very well written and unique concept that had me as irate as the characters. May God bless our kids and help us as parents fight the battle for their innocence.
Lillian Rhoades 04/17/11
This sentence provided some comic relief to what is a very serious issue today.

"She was crying because she wasn't pregnant!"

Thanks for highlighting the issue, even though I thought 45 youngsters were an unrealistic number for a TV show to have influenced, even for today.

As a former school nurse, I enjoyed walking down memory lane with your MCs.
Carol Penhorwood 04/17/11
Creative use of topic. It's absolutely alarming to see the influence TV has on our children.
Joe Moreland04/18/11
Shame on you! Don't you know that television, that bastion of pure motives, only REFLECTS society, not influence it? Was that appropriatly sarcastic? This is an excellent example of exactly how that sort of thing could happen. Of course television influences those who watch it - and they know it, that's why they charge billions per year to advertisers.
Loren T. Lowery04/18/11
Very well written and a heart-felt expose on the influence of the media as well as the naivete of some who worship at its steps. I was glad to see, however, that you also showed those who are aware and would stand against it.
Edmond Ng 04/18/11
A very sad reality. The feelings and the message came through in your writing. We certainly ought to pray and rally against such inhumane propaganda.
Kara Dunham 04/19/11
You have me worked up about this! Its really too bad that tv has become that important in our lives. I love your writing, you always do such a good job at soliciting emotion and portraying believable characters
Seema Bagai 04/22/11
This is a well-written piece. It made my stomach churn because of some of the underlying truths and the reality of society today. I hope you find a place to submit this so a wider audience can see what effect TV has on teens.
Linda Goergen04/23/11
Very good take on the subject "Outbreak"!

I too, am so sick of TV making acceptable what God tells us is unacceptable and it seems every year they push the boundaries of making immoral behavior seem right! And yet the TV audience is to blame maybe even more because if we would boycott the immoral shows in large enough numbers, the ratings would put an end to it, but funny how the trashier, especially “reality” TV, becomes, the bigger hits they seem to be! The piece is sure an eye-opener that we ALL need to take action!
Debra Hindman04/27/11
Outbreak? YES! Great subject matter. Thank you for addressing this with points right-on-the-nose about the attitudes some teens have towards THE teen pregnancy show...and it's repercussions. Enjoyed your story!
Danielle King 04/27/11
Congratulations Shann for placing 8th in level 3 with this well written, original and bang on topic entry.
AnneRene' Capp04/27/11
Congratulations, you truly deserve it Shannikins! As always, very creative while addressing the disheartenting allure of glamour and fame to young girls at any cost. OUTSTANDING! :)