Dubious Ads About Teen Pregnancy
See the ad to the right? Is this really the best, most effective use of $400,000?
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who spearheaded new Teen Pregnancy Prevention ad campaign, obviously thinks so. The ads being displayed on subways and bus shelters around the city feature distressed children and captions such as, “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.” The ads provide a number that teens can text to learn “the real price of pregnancy.” It leads them to a “game” that’s really a series of questions they’re prompted to answer, like, “My girlfriend is pregnant, but prom is coming up. Should I stay with her or go to the prom?” The queries get increasingly difficult: “Should I get a job, or focus on my future?” The player must pick. If he tries to text “Both,” the game will indicate that the character’s driver license was suspended for not paying child support.
Yes, teen pregnancy is a big problem. Children born to teen parents who have not completed high school are 9 times more likely to grow up in poverty, and eight out of ten teenage fathers don’t marry the mother of their child. These statistics alone should be enough to scare any teen straight. But what good do these ads do for teens who are already pregnant? Planned Parenthood has denounced the city’s campaign, stating that it “uses the images of toddlers to deliver messages that perpetuate gender stereotypes and presents stigmatizing, fear-based messages that have been proven to be ineffective in preventing teen pregnancies. Further, the ads themselves and their suggested text messages do not provide information about access to health care or affordable and effective birth control options, which are proven strategies for addressing teen pregnancy. “
The teenage years are among the most confusing and challenging for most people. At a time when these kids are still so vulnerable and impressionable, forcing pregnant teens to see ads telling them that their kids’ future is doomed—and their relationship is destined to fail—serves no purpose. Although these ads may prevent some teens from becoming pregnant, those that are already parents (or expecting) need support and encouragement that things can still work out and their dreams are not dead.
Do you feel that Bloomberg’s fear tactic hit or missed the mark? Leave a comment below.
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