Teen Pregnancy Campaigns: What's The Right Message To Send Out?

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Are the New York Human Resources Administration's new teen pregnancy ads a shaming campaign?

Teen pregnancy is arguably one of the most controversial issues in America for young people to date. However, it wasn't until MTV's hit TV show 16 and Pregnant premiered that the issue was brought to the forefront. While teen pregnancy is a topic that cannot be ignored, it is also a very delicate issue and must be handled with care.

Many viewers believed the MTV series, which depicted the everyday life and struggles of pregnant teens and their partners, glorified teen pregnancy. More recently, the New York Human Resources Administration created an ad campaign designed to show teens the negative outcomes of teen pregnancy. Both are being criticized, but is one approach better than the other? What message should we be sending?

Each of the four ads put out by the NYHRA depict a child, seemingly upset, overlaid with text; the text reads things like, "Honestly Mom…chances are he won't stay with you. What happens to me?" And "I'm twice as likely not to graduate high school because you had me as a teen."
Teen moms aren't the only ones targeted by the ads. Young dads, you were not spared. One ad reads, "Dad, you'll be paying to support me for the next 20 years."

Though the ad campaign has fallen under scrutiny from many, Mayor Bloomberg has released a statement of support. "This campaign makes very clear to young people that there's a lot at stake when it comes to deciding to raise a child," he said. "By focusing on responsibility and the importance of education, employment, and family in providing children with the emotional and financial support they need, we'll let thousands of young New Yorkers know that waiting to become a parent could be the best decision they ever make."

As a young mother myself, I have to disagree. These ads create a feeling of shame; they tell young parents that they are destined to fail if they get pregnant. "Think of how it must feel for the child of a teen mom who sees this poster. What message does that send them? Better drop out now, because you're doomed to fail," said Jezebel's Laura Beck.

The NYHRA's campaign fails to address the fact that many teen parents had not planned on becoming parents so young, rather they became pregnant as a result of incorrectly using contraceptives or failing to use them at all.  Keep Reading ...

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