Administration-funded ad campaigns in New York City aren’t exactly known for their subtlety. Heavy on the shock value campaigns against smoking and obesity, for example, have provided graphic and often grisly reminders of the effects city resident’s lifestyle choices can have.
The latest campaign targets teen pregnancy. Although ads have so far only appeared at bus stops (the subway splash will happen next week) the campaign is already drawing plenty of fire from young moms and advocacy groups who work with pregnant teens.
"Honestly mom ... chances are he won't stay with you. What happens to me?" a child lectures in one ad. In another, a tear-stained toddler scolds, "I'm twice as likely not to graduate high school because you had me as a teen." Detractors of the campaign say that it unfairly stigmatizes poor and minority girls. Teen moms say that it is hurtful.
"My little sister, she used to always tell me I was her role model and I questioned what type of role model am I to her. What type of daughter am I to my parents. What type of sister am I to my siblings," said Gloria Malone, a young mom and author of the blog Teen Mom NYC. "There was a lot of shame and it took a long time to get over that shame and those ads just bring it right back."
Teen pregnancy rates in the city have fallen 27 percent since 2003; the City Human Resources Administration (CHRA) hopes the new campaign will help curb the more than 20,000 teen pregnancies that still occur each year.
CHRA spokeswoman Connie Ress wrote in a statement, "Our campaign is designed with strong messages to start a necessary discussion about the serious outcomes of teen pregnancy. The facts are clear about the responsibilities and consequences of not waiting until you're financially and emotionally ready to take care of a child."
Critics agree that some of the messages are true, but they contend that the $400,000 spent on the campaign could have been better applied to programs that help teens break free of poverty and thus help avoid pregnancy, rather than on ads that end up hurting and stigmatizing young moms.
Today.com reports on the controversy here: Do NYC anti-teen pregnancy ads go too far?
Related teen pregnancy stories on MNN:
- 90 students become pregnant at one high school
- Pregnancy report on teen moms reveals dangerous assumptions
- Emergency contraception: Should it be more available to teens?