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How Parents Should Handle "Skins"

In this publicity image released by MTV, James Newman portrays Tony, right, and Sofia Black-D
AP Photo/MTV
MTV is under fire from parents and critics who say a new series goes way too far. "Skins," which debuted Monday, focuses on a group of teenage friends coping with adolescence.

But, as "Early Show" co-anchor Jeff Glor reports, how the teens on the show cope with adolescence is the issue.

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Glor notes one issue that's stirred controversy is the age of the actors involved -- not twenty-somethings -- but teens -- and the show's strong content.

According to celebrity news website TMZ.com, advertiser Taco Bell has pulled its ads from the program after a parents group called "Skins" dangerous.

"Skins" debuted to big ratings -- and even bigger controversy.

The show, based on a similar British series, is being criticized for its portrayal of teenagers who openly dabble in sex, drugs, and alcohol. The show stars some actors as young as 15.

One group calls it the most dangerous program of its type, ever.

Melissa Henson, senior director of the Parents Television Council, said, "They're engaging in the most reckless and irresponsible and sometimes even illegal behavior, and all of it is shown as an aspirational lifestyle."

The council has called for an investigation into the series, saying the show contains images of the "sexual exploitation of children" and "child pornography."

MTV executives reportedly held meetings over concerns an upcoming episode -- that shows a naked 17-year-old actor from behind -- may have violated child pornography laws. But in an official statement, the network said, "We are confident that skins will not only comply with all applicable legal requirements, but also with our responsibilities to our viewers."

Glor notes that other hit shows, such as "Glee," have also drawn criticism, particularly when some of that show's lead actors appeared in a provocative photo shoot. However, those actors are actually in their 20s, unlike the teens who perform in "Skins."

More than three million people watched Monday's premiere, including over one million under the age of 18.

Some observers are defending the show as a reflection of real life.

Jessica Bennett, senior writer for Newsweek, told CBS News, "Real kids have sex, real kids get pregnant, real kids drink, they experiment with drugs, many of them struggle with eating disorders, and what we're seeing in 'Skins' is a lot of things that kids can relate to."

However, despite the controversy in the U.S., the show has thrived in Britain ,where it's been on the air for five seasons.

But could this show have a real effect on kids watching it? Could it encourage children to engage in the behavior they see on the show?