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New anti-teen-pregnancy ads feature kids shaming their parents

A controversial anti-teen-pregnancy ad campaign is under fire from critics who say that the ads stigmatize teen moms.

By Parenting Magazine Mar 11, 2013 6:01PM

Sad child advertisementBy Leonora Desar

At a New York City bus stop, an ad of a child with tear-streaked cheeks catches the eye. “I’m twice as likely not to graduate high school because you had me as a teen,” says the ad. At another bus stop hangs a similar ad, this one featuring a wide-eyed little girl, with the caption: “Honestly mom….chances are he won’t stay with you. What happens to me?”

These ads are part of a controversial new anti-teen pregnancy campaign by the New York City Human Resources Administration. The campaign is under fire by critics who argue that the ads shame and stigmatize teen moms.

Plus: Does the Forever 21 Maternity Line Encourage Teen Pregnancy?

“The latest NYC ad campaign creates stigma, hostility, and negative public opinions about teen pregnancy and parenthood rather than offering alternative aspirations for young people,” said Haydee Morales, the Vice President of Education and Training at  Planned Parenthood of New York City, in a news release. “The City’s money would be better spent helping teens access health care, birth control, and high-quality sexual and reproductive health education, not on an ad campaign intended to create shock value."

The city says the campaign demonstrates “the negative consequences of having a child before you are ready,” reports TODAY. According to the city, there are more than 20,000 teen pregnancies a year, most of which are unplanned, in spite of the 27 percent drop in the teen pregnancy rate over the last decade.

“We want to make it clear to teenagers that there are significant responsibilities and burdens and consequences that come with parenthood and teenagers need to hear strong messages,” Robert Doar, commissioner of the city’s Human Resource Administration, told TODAY.

Plus: 16 Early Signs of Pregnancy

Jessica Pika, a spokesperson for The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, said that it’s difficult to gauge whether the ads will be effective.  “It’s such a complicated question that I hesitate to just say ‘Oh, they’re terrible,’ or ‘Oh, they’re amazing,’ Pika told Parenting.com. “The point obviously that Bloomberg and the Department of Health was trying to make was that teen pregnancy has a lot of social issues attached to it. And I think they were trying to call a lot of attention to it, and maybe they’ve chosen a pretty inflammatory way of doing it.”

Do you think the new ads are a good approach to the problem of teen pregnancy, or are they out of line?


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Mar 13, 2013 7:45PM
I'm so sick and tired of the stigma and the lets kick them while they're down towards teen moms. Ignorant people call them whores or worse. People lets educate ourselves on teen pregnancy. has anyone ever asked these young girls what their life has been like? Or what kind of functioning dysfunction they had growing up? or how about if they have ever encountered any abuse? Sexual, physical, mental, emotional? Lets put the responsibility where it lies, on their parents and yes, society! Society being held accountable in advertising young women half naked!! With stigmas and blame like these it doesn't look like it! And good grief! Labelling their kids and deeming them as failures before they even get a chance! APPALLING!! 
I had three kids when I was a teen. I am also a childhood sexual abuse survivor. My son is in third year University and passing at the top of his class, my eldest daughter is graduating High School this year and has been accepted to two colleges, my youngest is still in High school and doing excellent. So to stereo type and kick these teens down and shame them, you are NOT helping at all! Educate yourselves and strip back the outcomes. It starts long before the baby gets here. 
Mar 12, 2013 6:36PM

IIRC, there was an ad campaign--there certainly was an outdoor billboard--in New York City just as controversial some half-decade back (or thereabouts [thenabouts?]). I forget the exact details, but I think that that ad campaign said that the majority of abortions in the city if not the entire country were (at least at that time) performed on African-American women.

Mar 12, 2013 4:00PM
I am 19 but my mom and dad had my brother really young in their teens, but my dad had his family to help us. Everybody doesn't have families like my dad that will help them.  My dad tells us all the time he wish him and my mom were older when they had us, but he is happy we are here and him and my mom are still together after 26 which is rare now.

They need posters like that because it's reality. They life will not be like an MTV reality show.  
Mar 11, 2013 7:15PM
"Critics argue that the ads shame and stigmatize teen mothers"? Well, they do and that is exactly what the ads are meant to do. This society has gone way to far in forgiving teens for acting like whores!
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