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NEW NYC TEEN PREGNANCY SUBWAY ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN NOT THE ANSWER (3/6/13)
NYC’s campaign against teen parents ignores the structural realities that create the conditions for unintended pregnancies, and stigmatizes teen parents and their children
(New York, NY) – Planned Parenthood of New York City (PPNYC) denounced a new teen pregnancy prevention ad campaign unveiled this week by the New York City Human Resources Administration for shaming existing and to-be teen parents and their children.
The ad campaign, seen on bus and subway signs around the city, uses the images of toddlers to deliver messages that perpetuate gender stereotypes and presents stigmatizing, fear-based messages that have been proven to be ineffective in preventing teen pregnancies. Further, the ads themselves and their suggested text messages do not provide information about access to health care or affordable and effective birth control options, which are proven strategies for addressing teen pregnancy.
“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,” said Haydee Morales, Vice President of Education and Training at Planned Parenthood of New York City. “The City’s money would be better spent helping teens access health care, birth control, and high-quality sexual and reproductive health education, not on an ad campaign intended to create shock value.”
Prevention of teenage childbearing is a desirable goal for many reasons. The city of New York has made impressive progress, reducing teen pregnancy by 27 percent in the past decade. Stigmatizing the teens who have already become parents has not been a part of what has led to this success.
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.”
In a city where there are immense disparities in health, education, and employment opportunities, we must approach young people most impacted by unintended pregnancy holistically. And we must involve young people themselves and the communities in which they live.
“Planned Parenthood supports programs like CATCH and school-based health centers, and welcomes the opportunity to discuss these issues and initiatives further with the Administration,” added Morales. “Teenage parenthood is simply not the disastrous and life-compromising event these ads portray. It’s time we focus on the root causes rather than point fingers at teen parents and their children.”
Morales continued: “PPNYC is committed to reproductive justice in contrast to blaming young people for the outcomes of poverty, violence, limited access to health care, and unequal educational opportunities, as well as gender, racial, and ethnic inequalities. We are committed to raising our voice in favor of programs that promote family planning, health services, and comprehensive sex education and relate them to concerns such as poverty alleviation and community, teen, and child health.”
Since 1916, Planned Parenthood of New York City (PPNYC) has been an advocate for and provider of reproductive health services and education for New Yorkers. Serving 50,000 clients annually, PPNYC’s health care centers in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Staten Island offer reproductive health services, including gynecological care, contraception, pregnancy testing, abortion, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, and HIV testing and counseling. Through a threefold mission of clinical services, education, and advocacy, PPNYC is bringing better health and more fulfilling lives to each new generation of New Yorkers. As a voice for reproductive freedom, PPNYC supports legislation and policies to ensure that all New Yorkers—and, in fact, people around the world—will have access to the full range of reproductive health care services and information.