Critics Slam NYC’s Anti-Teen Pregnancy Campaign

Critics have lashed out over New York City’s new anti-teen pregnancy ad campaign, which features children shaming their parents for having them so young.

The ads made their debut Monday and, in just a few short days, have already drawn the ire of teen parents and organizations alike, who say the campaign unnecessarily targets young mothers and their children.

One ad reads, “I’m twice as likely not to graduate high school because you had me as a teen.” Another says, “Honestly, Mom, chances are he won’t stay with you. What happens to me?” There are about 4,000 of these ads across the city, plastered on the sides of bus shelters and subways.

Planned Parenthood of New York City was especially incensed over the campaign, saying the posters serve to stigmatize teen parents.

“The latest NYC ad campaign creates stigma, hostility, and negative public opinions about teen pregnancy and parenthood rather than offering alternative aspirations for young people,” Haydee Morales, a vice president for the organization, said in a news release.

Morales also said the city would be better off spending its money to provide teens with access to health care, birth control and reproductive health education.

Estelle Raboni, director of the Changing the Odds Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, acknowledged that the facts in the ads were “technically correct,” but said she didn’t believe the campaign would work. Raboni said that teen pregnancies occur “because of multiple factors: poverty, disengagement from school, lack of information and access to sexual and reproductive health services.”

She added, “Shaming teenagers has not worked in the past and won’t work this time around either

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Teen parents have also spoken out against the campaign.

“I believe the city’s new campaign is negative towards teen moms and it perpetuates a stereotype that teen moms are not successful when really that’s not the case,” said Geneva Farrow, who had a son when she was 19 and has since founded a mentoring group for teen mothers. “And there are many teen moms who defy the odds.”

Still, there are some who support the campaign and believe it will be effective in preventing teen pregnancies. Nicole Angresano, vice president of community impact at United Way of Greater Milwaukee, said on Todau, “The teen birth rate in Milwaukee has decreased nearly 35 percent since the inception of this campaign in 2006.”

The teen pregnancy rate in New York has also seen a decline in the past decade. The teen pregnancy rate dropped 27 percent in the last 10 years, but there are still 20,000 — largely unintended — teen pregnancies a year. Only some schools require sex ed and emergency contraception.

Do you think these anti-teen pregnancy ads go too far? Or do they not go far enough?