Shaming Pregnant Teens?

teen preg adsA few weeks ago, I came across a discussion on Twitter about new teen pregnancy ads in NYC. I looked up the ads and saw that they were very blunt and to the point. For some background, New York City ranks 11th in the nation for teen pregnancy. That is pretty high, but there are cities that are much higher. The United States also has the highest teen pregnancy rate among developed nations…why am I not surprised? However, in recent years the pregnancy rate in NYC  has dropped 27 percent which is attributed to an increase in using contraception and access to this contraception. So why is it necessary for the ads created by the New York City government?

The ads are definitely speaking a harsh truth. They are like the “Scared Straight” of teen pregnancy ads. I was shocked when I read them, but I wasn’t really upset about the ads. If being nice and tiptoeing around the issue hasn’t worked then I see nothing wrong with the direct approach. Shame is a powerful tool at times. The argument of Planned Parenthood is these ads do less preventing and make a pregnant teen feel shameful and insecure. I could see this argument especially if you are a pregnant teen standing next to the ad at a bus stop. It would not make her feel confident about her present situation. It could also prevent her from seeking help and getting regular ultrasounds. One thing the ads don’t accomplish is shaming the teen boys (or older men *coughs*) who helped in creating the pregnancy to begin with; it takes two.

This country’s unwillingness to teach teens about contraception and sexual intercourse are the reasons so many teens are pregnant. We are not Puritans; these kids are having sex and a lot of it. Protection and being well-informed should be taught. Let’s be more realistic and teach preventive measures not just abstinence.

What do think about these ads? Have they gone too far or is it acceptable? What do you think we should teach teens about sex and pregnancy?

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One thought on “Shaming Pregnant Teens?

  1. I think that from the perspective of a child born because of an unplanned pregnancy they are too harsh. My boyfriend’s mom had him when she was a teen, and he finds ads like that particularly offensive.

    I also worry about the young women who see ads like this and are too ashamed to get the help that they (and the little people inside them) need. Shame is a powerful weapon, and maybe it can be used to keep teens from getting pregnant, but it’s going too far when we use shame to make a young woman feel like a failure.

    I wish I knew the right things to teach teens about sex and pregnancy…I do know that what I was taught (Don’t do it or you’ll go to Hell, get a disease, and your husband won’t want you), was ineffective. The second I was out from under my parents’ thumb I was sexually active. Honestly I had to learn from my own mistakes…and I hate to prescribe that as a teaching method, but it was way more effective for me than anything anyone ever tried to teach me.

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