“Pregnancy scare” takes on a whole new meaning

This is just…wow.

We’re a wee late to this; the ad was created by a program which is headed by the Leicester City Council in the UK, and was released by the National Health Service of Leicester. And despite YouTube banning it (not sure why it’s up again), NHS Leicester defended the ad, saying that it was merely designed to “shock” and “provoke” younger people.
“We know this film is hard-hitting, but so are the numbers of under-18s getting pregnant in Leicester. The city’s Teenage Pregnancy and Parenthood Partnership has been successful in cutting the numbers of young girls getting pregnant,” said Tim Rideout, chief executive of NHS Leicester City.
Shock? Yes. Provoke? If they mean “provoke” young people to run away screaming from The Sex, not so much. While the program is pro-contraception and pro-choice, using the same fear and shame tactics as abstinence-only programs have so ineffectively done is not the route to go. (Not to mention it’s, ya know, fucked up.)
The kicker is they’re starting a “drama series” in June. That should be a hoot.

Join the Conversation


    I don’t see anything wrong with the video. I’m glad that they made a video like this. Teen pregnancy is NOT glamorous, easy, or fun. Like the whole Bristol Palin interview with tabloids, which just pisses me off. There are photos of her dressed nicely and smiling, holding her baby and saying how wonderful her life is. Well, of course it is– she’s a privileged girl with rich parents who can afford daycare and still go to school!
    I hope the video is a wake-up call for many youths… but I have no idea if it’ll encourage them to practice safe sex.

  • dsds

    This comment has been deleted.

  • SociologicalMe

    Hey Babe?!?

  • MzBitca

    I love how once again, the father is nowhere to be scene suffering any consequences.
    This not the same as showing kids what pregnancy and giving birth is, by showing her outside, surrounded by kids who are taking pictures of her they are highlighting the shame aspect which is NEVER appropriate.
    And did someone seriously just say “she should keep her legs closed.” on a feminist site?

  • Vanessa

    Sorry folks, troll has been banned.

  • ikkin

    Yes. I agree. I don’t see them saying anything about prevention methods, abstinence or otherwise, which can leave it pretty open-ended for young women (and men) to make up their own minds. Yes, it is targeting young girls, which isn’t great. However, I am proud of them for stepping out and saying that not all babies are precious little miracles wrapped in cotton candy.

  • Alessa

    I agree that the shame used in this is terrible. All the screaming and laughing kids taking pictures and video, and the poor girl in the middle just screaming… Teenage pregnancy should not be glorified, but I can’t help but feel that shaming the mothers is also wrong.
    They already have to put up with enough, why continue society’s hatred against them too? There has to be a better way to avoid teen pregnancy…

  • T-Monster

    As some other posters have said, all this does is demonize the young woman. It plays up that whole having the baby at the prom scene. Maybe their intentions are good, but I was just horrified by that PSA. And it wasn’t the shock that The Sex leads to babies. I just don’t see how this does anything other than shame sexuality in teenagers (whilst making them believe they will give birth in the schoolyard surrounded by cameras).

  • Courtroom Mama

    Whoa, it’s like Cloverfield.
    Yeah, I get that teen parenthood is not glamorous or easy (although it’s a little judgey to say it’s “not fun,” parenting can be fun regardless of the age of the parent, maybe YOU don’t find the idea of raising a child “fun,” or it’s not fun in the same way going to the mall or whatever teenagers do is), but that’s not any different than any other age of parenting. What IS different is that teen parents, like other women parenting from the margins, lack the support that comes of being within the hegemonic vision of the “ideal mother” (i.e. white, 25+, married to a man who earns enough that she doesn’t have to work outside the home, etc.). Heaping extra shame isn’t going to help. I mean, if shaming were the answer, single women wouldn’t be having sex at all.
    I think that hoping the video is a “wake up call for youths” is like hoping The Blair Witch Project is a wake up call for campers. Because, ya know, most teen mothers give birth on the football pitch while their classmates shriek and take video. There are ways to teach teenagers that parenthood is about far more than just carrying around a cute human doll that I’m sure are far more effective than the clearly fake drama. Like, say, giving a voice to teen parents, whom I am certain are capable of articulating the reality of young parenthood in a way others can understand.
    As much as I think Bristol Palin has become a hapless mouthpiece to her mother’s radical anti-sex, anti-woman agenda, she has been pretty open about the fact that she has had to give up a part of her youth as a result of having Tripp. I’m sure it’s relatively little compared to young mothers who don’t have access to her support, but you should count the times that she says the word “mistake” when she speaks publicly.

  • opheliasawake

    Turning teen pregnancy into Cloverfield pastiche (thanks Courtroom Mama, it’s perfect) does nothing except demonize children and young women. The notion of a child being a punishment for any kind of behavior terrifies me, which is also why all the Bristol Palin coverage makes me gag.
    Why do “adults” think the best way to tackle this problem is to frighten kids? That would never, ever happen, especially at a school in Leicester. If it did, that school should have a humongous lawsuit on their hands for endangering one of their students. The very fact that they have to go to this illogical extreme demonstrates the errors in their reasoning. *facepalms, goes back to reading “Purity Myth”*


    but it DOES happen. Girls need to be aware that they COULD be shunned and mocked by everyone else if they get pregnant.
    I’m not saying it’s good, but it does happen in real life.

  • cand86

    Gawd, I am so tired of this sort of thing (focusing more on the drama series)- it’s the whole “The Secret Life Of The American Teeanger” all over again”. Every time a teenage pregnancy is used as a scare tactic on a television show, it eventually ends up doing quite the opposite- they can’t keep the character in perpetual misery (because who would want to watch that, or who wouldn’t scoff at it like an afterschool special?), and so having a kid is glamorized, always portrayed as “tough” but never more than she/they can handle, especially with that wonderful family who was freaked at first but then became supportive.
    Believe me, a show that puts a strong emphasis on showing teenagers navigating safe sex- from discussing, purchasing/obtaining, and using correctly- and experiencing all the positive benefits (happy, normal, healthy, childfree-until-it-is-desired lives) by doing so- will go a lot farther than teen pregnancies/pregnancy scares.

  • ghostorchid

    A few things come to mind here:
    1. Is anyone else vastly impressed with the unaffected blood-stained girl delivering the baby? Like, you go girl. Deliver that shit!
    2. I’m pretty sure the second video shows that her baby is, in fact, a flesh-eating zombie. It’ll devour her boyfriend, and as it creeps twitchily toward her with his disembodied torso dragging behind it (leaving streaks of blood and sinew on the floor) it will gurgle “Mommy, mommy” and spit up spider larvae.
    3. Did anyone else think of the one-armed man in Arrested Development suddenly appearing on the scene and saying, “And that’s why you don’t get preggers.”
    Overall, I think this video is absolutely and hilarious and awesome. I think I’ll go have filthy risky sex now.

  • marissafromboston

    haha you win.
    i do give major props to the girl delivering the baby. she was cool and composed, given the situation.

  • vegkitty

    Actually, “Degrassi” usually does a pretty good job with presenting realities of teen parenting. One of the characters has a 3-year-old child (she’s 16 or 17). In one episode, she wanted to go out and party, and her mother (who takes care of the child) was like, “nuh-uh… this is your child, you take care of her. Peace out.”
    Also, she got kicked off the cheerleading squad for a while because the child got sick and the other cheerleaders didn’t want a sick kid at their practices.
    Did it make me want to go out and get pregnant at 16? No. But I wasn’t like “zomfg teh sechs is bad!” either. Life lessons: ur doin it rite.

  • Gopher

    Relieved to know it isnt real. I originally thought it was!

  • Gopher

    But the ‘father’ doesnt always really have to have consequences, at least not as bad as the female. He was probably hiding around the corner or absent.

  • Gopher

    I didnt get shame from it. No one but the filmers were taping it on their phones, and the audience knows thats just because its a commercial.

  • Gopher

    To me I think it said ruining your fun by having a baby, not so much anything to do with shame. Like showing a school girl giving birth is a very distortive thing when its done at school. Its meant to shock the viewer because we usually associate different things with the school yard.

  • Gopher

    I thought that was a teacher.

  • ghostorchid

    If so, that teacher is really missing out on deeply rewarding career as a doula.

  • artdyke

    If they really wanted to scare teens, just show a real, unedited, uncensored video of a birth… with a tripod. I didn’t think this was frightening, just… stupid. And it doesn’t make any sense. It’s entirely unclear what their message is except “don’t get pregnant”.

  • jjgirl23

    Degrassi does do a good job of that.
    Pretty much everyone who’s had sex has had a pregnancy or std scare too. :-)
    Unlike Gossip Girl or something where everybody has sex with everybody and nobody ever gets sick or preggo.

  • Alessa

    That’s true, but I feel like these kinds of ads only help to perpetuate that cycle of shame.
    Shame should not be the reason girls don’t get pregnant. The lack of financial stability, inability to give complete proper care for the child, and plain naivete should be the reasons girls don’t get pregnant. I am not saying that ALL girls have these conditions, but you catch my drift. Shame should come nowhere near this.
    Saying they’ll be shamed anyway and thus the ad is justified is ignoring the fact that the shame shouldn’t be there at all. Only the warning, the caution, and the general agreement of society that it’s not a good idea should be present.

  • Alessa

    Yelling, screaming, laughing kids, all jostling to see the school slut laying on the ground giving birth to her mistake.
    That was the general message I thought the ad was trying to give. Hence I am incredibly offended and against it.
    But if you had a different interpretation, what did you feel was the general message behind all of the public ridicule, or do you even think that all counted as ridicule (this is an honest question, I really want to know and am not being sarcastic)?

  • Alessa

    By the way, I NEVER use that s-word. I hate that word with a passion.
    I feel like that was how the ad was trying to portray the girl though, so I thought it’s use was unfortunately necessary.
    I hate hate hate that word.

  • Pantheon

    I think its ok to show people having sex with no negative consequences, as long as you show them using condoms.

  • Pantheon

    They do that sometimes in health classes, or in college classes on human reproduction.

  • Naught

    I would have liked it better with a “use a condom every time” message or the equivalent at the end, but it seemed like it might be effective. I’d say the real test would be whether exposing teenagers to it actually does reduce unintended teenage pregnancy rates or not.

  • Gopher

    I dont think the message had anything to do with the kids all circling around the girl. I saw that as a more abstract way of bringing home the idea that kids and school dont mix. A shocking contradiction. The kids circling around also allowed for a buzz and shock to be created that surprises the viewer.

  • Gopher

    Yeah. I closed my eyes the entire time.

  • Mollie

    I feel like I live in a different world than those kids, or anyone who can relate to those kids in the video. Teen pregnancy is so common in my schools and in the junior highs here as well, that level of shame and shock seems like a horror movie. None of the (many) pregnant young women at my school would get that sort of treatment, though I understand that my school’s situation is not the norm. (I don’t know what the norm is, so… I’m tempted to say this video is a gross exaggeration and a scare tactic, but I don’t know for sure.)

  • Mina

    …or at work, or at home with his wife, or…

  • Mina

    “…Shame should not be the reason girls don’t get pregnant. The lack of financial stability, inability to give complete proper care for the child, and plain naivete should be the reasons girls don’t get pregnant…”
    Don’t forget the health risks of pregnancy for younger adolescent girls, and the opportunity costs – the reduced time, energy and/or money she’d have for pursuing her other goals – for her if she has a child so young.
    Heck, having less time and energy for her other goals would still be a risk for a girl even if she’s married and lives in a wealthy household.
    BTW, don’t you hate the way so many people lump together girl motherhood, low-income motherhood, and unwed motherhood as if all 3 factors always happen together? I mean, IRL housewives can have kids and be broke, unmarried 40-year-old women can adopt, and so on – aren’t they moms too?
    “…I am not saying that ALL girls have these conditions, but you catch my drift. Shame should come nowhere near this…”

  • Gopher

    His wife! Then that would be statuatory rape.

  • Gopher

    Same at my former school. It was not at all unusual to see pregnant girls every where. Where I am now at college you dont see that at all. When I visit I’m reminded of the reality some girls live with. In my former city sex education is not widely taught and I dont think they are ever exposed to the option of abortion.

  • Deimos

    Im sorry, thats a completely ridiculous statement.
    First, you assume that he’s hiding or absent. Do you also assume the father should have followed her around all day because she was pregnant? I mean clearly NO ONE planned for her to go into labor in the middle of the courtyard.
    And yes the father does always have consequences in the same way that the mother does. And to measure the consequences that any young person may or may not have to face due to teenage pregnancies based on sex is absurd. The point is to show young people (boy or girl) that child bearing and school-life don’t mix.
    Now, with that said, I have to admit, the way the message was expressed was somewhat inappropriate because it did more to make labor seem disgusting them portray the idea that neither the mother nor father were prepared for the trails of teenage parenting.

  • Mina

    Bingo. Not every pregnant girl and/or teen was impregnated by a boy and/or teen. We should also remember the ones who were impregnated by older men.

  • rissa523

    The only good thing about this video is that apparently a girl can give birth to a baby without a doctor or hospital. Everything else is just sickening. They might as well show a girl having a baby on the toilet. The odds of getting to the pushing stage without knowing it are so small its unthinkable to put this in an ad. This isn’t advocating fear of sex its advocating fear of birth. Its not like once a girl gets pregnant she has to end up giving birth and especially not in a schoolyard.

  • rhowan

    That’s not a valid assumption to make. Not only can people get married at age 16 in England, 16 is also the age of consent for sex. It would be entirely possible for a married person to impregnate someone under 18 without it being statutory rape.

  • smiley

    What is wrong about showing the unglamorous side of teenage pregnancy?
    England has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy, despite a generation of sex education and freely available contraception.
    A single message that goes against the ‘babies are cute’, “you’ll be fine”, ‘everyone does it’ does not seem to be scandalous.
    Sugarcoating everything seldom helps anyone. A little reality is quite welcome.