Teen pregnancy "shaming" campaign slammed by young parents

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  1. New York City’s new teen pregnancy prevention campaign is being harshly criticized this week by teenaged moms and those who support them, calling it everything from “shameful” to “horrifying.”

    Launched this week by the New York Human Resources Administration, a series of controversial poster advertisements associated with the campaign have been featured in subway cars and bus shelters, in and around New York City.

    Each poster shows the face of an unhappy baby, overlayed with sentences like “I’m twice as likely not to graduate high school because you had me as a teen" and "Honestly, Mom, chances are he won’t stay with you. What happens to me?”

  2. "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 Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a statement released Sunday. 

    "By focusing on responsibility and the importance of education, employment, and family in providing children with the emotional and financial support they need, we’ll let thousands of young New Yorkers know that waiting to becoming a parent could be the best decision they ever make."
  3. While the affective content is meant to "show the high costs teen pregnancy can have for both teen parents and their children," as NYCHRA writes on its website, the ads are being harshly criticized for using statistics to shame teen mothers, as opposed to educating young people about birth control and telling them how to access contraceptive care.
  4. The New York Daily News called the project a "shame campaign," while Jezebel's Laura Beck pondered "Think of how it must feel for the child of a teen mom who sees this poster. What message does that send them? Better drop out now, because you're doomed to fail."
  5. Planned Parenthood NYC has denounced the campaign outright, writing that it "ignores the structural realities that create the conditions for unintended pregnancies, and stigmatizes teen parents and their children."
  6. Others are hailing the city for their efforts, however, and applauding Bloomberg for addressing the issue in such a public way.
  7. Teen mothers themselves are taking to Twitter and writing blog posts to share their thoughts:
  8. But the subway and bus shelter ads are only one part of the campaign, as blogger and activist Miriam Perez pointed out after participating in the text message game the posters promote.
  9. "It might be hard to believe, but there’s a component to the campaign that’s even worse than the ads," wrote Perez in a Tuesday blog post.

    "First, the “game” asks you to pick either Louis or Anaya, the two characters you can follow. I chose Anaya, and this is the first response I received."