Several organizations, advocates, and even politicians have spoken out about the City’s new teen pregnancy prevention campaign and how it’s taking us in the wrong direction. Here are some examples:
Assemblyman Walter Mosley had this to say about the campaign:
“While we understand the very real consequences of teenage pregnancies, we cannot root an awareness campaign in negative racial and socio-economic stereotypes that stigmatize young parents and unfairly characterize children that come from such circumstances. Our city’s pregnancy prevention efforts should be focused on providing constructive opportunities for our youth and fostering an open and respectful dialogue on informed decision-making.”
State Senator Liz Krueger also released a statement sharply criticizing the ads:
“As someone who has spent decades in the fight against poverty and the fight to make sure women have equal rights to have or not have children, I am appalled at the ill-targeted and pathologically mean-spirited ad campaign put forward by the New York City Human Resources Administration, supposedly intended to reduce teen pregnancy,” she said. “This campaign seems laser-focused on shaming already-struggling teen parents.”
Councilwoman Annabel Palma also blasted the ads citing her personal experience as a teen mother:
“I was once a teenage mother. And I can imagine how teenage mothers across the city feel right now: shamed and stigmatized by Mayor Bloomberg’s ad campaign against them. Trying to shock and scare teens into changing their behavior is the wrong approach,” Ms. Palma said. “I speak from experience: young mothers and fathers need better access to the support and services that will help them care for their children, and lead responsible lives as adults. Today I add my voice to the growing chorus of voices calling on Mayor Bloomberg to cancel this counterproductive and offensive ad campaign. The resources spent on the campaign should be redirected to programs and outreach that will help young people.”
National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health condemns the campaign in a March 5th press release arguing that it stigmatizes teen mothers, especially Latinas.
“Myths, rather than realities, have too often guided the public discourse about young Latinas and pregnancy. The administration had an opportunity to correct these myths and instead reinforced them,” said Jessica González-Rojas, executive director of NLIRH.
Planned Parenthood of New York City (PPNYC) issued a March 6th press release stating that “NYC’s campaign against teen parents ignores the structural realities that create the conditions for unintended pregnancies, and stigmatizes teen parents and their children.”
They point out that: “Evidence also proves that there is a false premise in believing that teen pregnancy is the cause of poverty when in fact many researchers have found that teen childbearing is an outcome rather than a cause of the poor economic conditions faced by many teens in this city. According to University of Pennsylvania researcher Frank F. Furstenberg, teen pregnancy prevention “is not the silver bullet for reducing poverty or strengthening the family.”
A subsequent New York Times article about the campaign covers the PPNYC response and also quotes VP of Education Haydee Morales, saying that “Hurting and shaming communities is not what’s going to bring teen pregnancy rates down.”
Changing the Odds: Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program
Estelle Raboni, the director of the successful Changing the Odds Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program out of the Morris Heights Health Center in the Bronx, New York, said that “while the information quoted is technically correct, in my professional opinion I don’t believe the ads will work.” Raboni, whose program has been singled out for its effective strategies, added that ”teen pregnancy occurs because of multiple factors: poverty, disengagement from school, lack of information and access to sexual and reproductive health services – shaming teenagers has not worked in the past and won’t work this time around either.”
Miriam Perez, RH Reality Check
RH Reality Check also criticizes the new campaign in a March 5 blog post.
Natasha Vianna, The Pushback (MA Alliance on Teen Pregnancy)
Blogger Natasha Vianna criticizes the campaign and shares her own experiences with teen parenting. She says:
“When I was a teen, I knew how hard it was to be a teen mom because I saw it in my family and in families around me. My mom was a teen mom, my grandmother was a teen mom, my aunt was a teen mom, my cousin was a teen mom, and so many more. Yes, I saw girls drop out of school and struggle with many aspects of their lives. I didn’t need a lame ad with a picture of a crying baby (who of course had to resemble a minority) to tell me that. Yet, at 17, I still became a teen mom and it was NOT what I wanted for myself. I never thought to myself, “Ahhh yes, statistics say my kid would be twice as likely to not graduate than kids born to moms over 22. SO, I will have a baby now before 22 and accept the challenge.” So what makes you think most teens are going to think the opposite? Pregnancies are usually unplanned and accidental. These ads don’t prevent unplanned pregnancies.”
Gloria Malone, Teen Mom NYC
Brittany Braithwaite, Amplify Blog – Advocates for Youth
Nicole Clark, MSW, Nicole Clark Consulting