3/10/13

City's Aggressive New Anti-Teen Pregnancy Campaign Draws Fire

Edgy posters, part of a $400,000 anti-teen pregnancy campaign by the city's Department of Human Resources, are popping up in subways, bus shelters and neighborhoods with high rates of teen pregnancy across the city.

The ads feature babies with hard-hitting messages like "Honestly, mom, chances are he won't stay with you.  What happens to me?"

The campaign includes a number to text to get facts about teen pregnancy and play an interactive game about a pregnant teenager named Anaya and her boyfriend Louis.

HRA commissioner Robert Doar praised the in-house campaign as encouraging responsibility in young people.  Many teens don't understand, he said, that having a baby can be a ticket to poverty, lack of education and joblessness -- not to mention 20 years of child support.

Planned Parenthood, typically allied with Bloomberg on reproductive health matters, blasted the campaign for reinforcing negative stereotypes about teen mothers, ignoring the racial, economic and social triggers for teenage pregnancy and shaming the target audience.

According to a Planned Parenthood of New York City spokesperson the organization was “shocked and taken aback” by the tone of the campaign.

The Bloomberg administration shot back, in so many words, that it was time the gloves came off, saying teens, particularly young women, needed to understand the consequences of pregnancy.

The campaign, developed by a private marketing firm, involved focus groups with teens and parents who had children as teenagers. 

The city’s teenage pregnancy rate has dropped by 27% over the past decade, which tracks the national rate of decline.

Nearly 9 out of 10 teen pregnancies in the city are accidents, according to the Bloomberg administration, which has mandated sex education in public schools and allowed high school nurses to dispense birth control, including the morning-after pill.

Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro urged the Bloomberg administration to go a step further and deny teen mothers public assistance [Daily News.]

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