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Zabrocki’s take on ‘16 and Pregnant’ goes national

Ed Zabrocki

Ed Zabrocki

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Updated: January 19, 2014 11:55AM



Tinley Park Mayor Ed Zabrocki was a “little dismayed” after being featured Tuesday morning on ABC-TV’s “Good Morning America.”

In a report on the ongoing debate on whether MTV should be allowed to film the reality show “16 and Pregnant” in Tinley Park, GMA reporter Linzie Janis talked with Zabrocki, who said the show glorifies teen pregnancy, and the show’s supporters, who call it a form of sex education.

Recently, Zabrocki asked the owner of Parmesan’s, a cafe inside the 80th Avenue Metra station, to not allow filming there for the popular program because he said “it sends a wrong message.” The show chronicles the challenges of teen pregnancy and motherhood.

Zabrocki, a retired high school guidance counselor, said he takes issue with people seeking out reality TV shows to try to become famous.

After Tuesday’s segment on the morning talk show, Zabrocki said, “I’m a little dismayed. They (used) about 20 seconds out of an interview that was 20 to 30 minutes long.”

Among the footage that did not make the cut was an in-depth discussion about whether reality shows are realistic, he said.

“I’m not discouraging businesses from doing anything, that’s an individual decision,” Zabrocki said. “I was discouraging (MTV) from using the train station, a village building, to film at.”

In the “Good Morning America” report, Zabrocki said, “I don’t have my head in the sand, to realize (teen pregnancy) doesn’t go on in this town, it does. But I think, let’s not add to the glorification process.”

In the report, Janis said the Andrew High School student who’s reportedly featured in the show has given birth and that photos are posted on social media.

Zabrocki said that kind of public attention is exactly what he’s against.

“The girls who go on that show end up with fan groups and fame,” he said.

Also interviewed on the news program, Bill Albert, of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unwanted Pregnancy, said he challenges anyone to watch “16 and Pregnant” and think that anything about such a life is glamorous.

“In our view, this is really sex education for the 21st century,” Albert said.

Either way, said Ericka Souter, editor of thestir.com, a blog involved with motherhood issues, “a lot of moms feel (the mayor) has sparked an important conversation, one that is affecting a lot of teens out there.”

Zabrocki said he has no intention of pursuing the matter further, adding that he entered the controversy only after a reporter asked him about the reality show filming at the train station. He said he thought the “whole thing was over” after Parmesan’s owner decided to not allow the show to film there.



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