A NYC campaign from the Human Resource Administration “Think Being A Teen Parent Won’t Cost You?” is drawing deserved criticism from reproductive justice leaders and organizations for shaming teen mothers and fathers in the name of reducing early pregnancy rates. Since the ads were unveiled last week boasting such stale and infuriating slogans as “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 will happen to me?” (pictured above), they’ve been pissing off feminists and reproductive justice advocates… and doing nothing for NYC teens outside of shaming and blaming them.
Planned Parenthood has emerged as a leading critic of the campaign, saying it “ignores the racial, economic and social factors that contribute to teenage pregnancy” and creates “stigma, hostility and negative public opinions about teen pregnancy and parenthood rather than offering alternative aspirations for young people.”
Feministing alum Miriam Perez writing in RH Reality Check that there’s a less-publicized component to the campaign that’s “even worse than the ads” and goes on to describe a completely infuriating SMS/mobile component leading teens through a “screwy game” of pregnancy-themed “choose your own adventure” which don’t actually include any actual information for teens trying not to get pregnant.
Here’s a good Storify summarizing many of the criticisms of the campaign. But we’re not here just to pile onto the criticisms. Today, courtesy New York Coalition for Reproductive Justice (NYCRJ), there’s more we can do than just complain or resort to renegade street art. NYCRJ is launching it’s No Stigma! No Shame! Campaign in response to the campaign, and you can sign on today to push for a teen pregnancy prevention campaign that doesn’t shame and blame teen parents, particularly teen parents of color.
They have put out a call for individuals and organizations to stand with them and sign on. To do so, simply send your name, any affiliation or organization, and state to firstname.lastname@example.org. Then get the word out by tweeting to handle @NYC4RJ or using #NoStigmaNoShame. The full sign on letter is available here.
Gloria Malone, Teen Mom NYC
Natasha Vianna, The Pushback (MA Alliance on Teen Pregnancy)
Miriam Perez, RH Reality Check
Brittany Braithwaite, Amplify Blog – Advocates for Youth
Nicole Clark, MSW, Nicole Clark Consulting