Ads against teenage pregnancy generate controversy

Courtesy of Human Resources Administration


Posters with pictures of crying babies have appeared in New York City subways as a part of a new campaign by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to reduce teen pregnancy.

The posters bear controversial 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 campaign, which was unveiled at the beginning of March, is a collaborative effort by Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs and Human Resources Administration Commissioner Robert Doar.

Other posters target teenage fathers, reading, “Dad, you’ll be paying to support me for the next 20 years.” The campaign also includes an interactive texting program and YouTube video featuring facts, games and quizzes concerning teenage pregnancy.

Bloomberg said the goal of this initiative is to show that teenagers with no money, job or college degree are ill-equipped to raise a child. Bloomberg’s previous programs to reduce teen pregnancy include requiring sexual education in public schools and allowing high school nurses to provide birth control.

“This campaign makes very clear to young people that there’s a lot at stake when it comes to deciding to raise a child,” said Bloomberg in a press conference. “We’ve already seen important progress in our effort to help more teens delay pregnancy — teen pregnancy has steadily declined in New York City — but there is more work still to be done.”

Teen pregnancy in New York City has declined by 27 percent in the past decade, although there are still more than 20,000 teen pregnancies annually.

“Teens giving birth before they are ready to provide emotional and financial support is not a good way to raise children,” said HRA commissioner Doar in the campaign’s press release. “We cannot dictate how people live their lives, and sometimes even the best plans don’t work out, but we must encourage responsibility and send the right message, especially to young people.”

Planned Parenthood has fought back against the PSA. The organization prefers a judgment-free approach in helping and advising young, parents-to-be.

“The latest New York City 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, vice president of education and training at Planned Parenthood of New York City, in a press release.

Steinhardt junior Emily Senkowsky, a member of the NYU chapter of the Newman Catholic Fellowship, shared her opinion on the matter.

“If the government is interested in running these kinds of ads, they should also run ads that provide helpful information for pregnant teens: hotlines to call, places to go,” she said.

A version of this article was published in the Wednesday, March 13 print edition. Georgia Dudman is a contributing writer. Email her at [email protected]

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