These Teenage Pregnancy Public Service Announcements Aren’t Helping!

teenage pregnacy

Teenage pregnancy is a problem, but this isn’t a solution for it. | Source: ShutterStock

Teen pregnancy rates are at an almost all-time low in the U.S., which is awesome. But it’s still a bit of a problem, so New York City is taking action… but in a really crappy way.

In a series of new public service announcement posters aimed at curbing teenage pregnancy, there are pictures of sad, confused babies with depressing facts and statistics. Of course, this is designed to make you stop and think, “Well, I probably should wrap it up. Or wait. Or go on the pill. Or otherwise somehow not get pregnant and keep a kid.”

These are all commendable notions, and I applaud New York City’s intentions on ending what is, in some places and demographics, an epidemic. But. BUT! I don’t think finger wagging, guilt or humiliation are necessarily the way to go about this. Not sure what I mean? Let’s take a look at the posters in question for a better idea.

teenage pregnancy

Source: NYC.gov

In this ad, teenage pregnancy is deterred with the idea that any kids you have will ultimately fail at life. Not only is this disturbing, but what about the teen moms who are out there already? What if they see these? What if their kids see these? This screams of insensitivity and a real lack of foresight.

teenage pregnancy

Source: NYC.gov

Oh, great. If your life wasn’t hard enough already, you’re also going to die alone. Do you feel better yet? Wait, what’s the matter? Why are you crying?

teenage pregnancy

Source: NYC.gov

Okay, not gonna lie: This one didn’t bother me much because it addresses the fact that guys play a role in teenage pregnancy, too. We can’t knock ourselves up, so why are we the only ones who get judged for it?

teenage pregnancy

Source: NYC.gov

Okay, okay. Fair enough. Kids are expensive. I spend a ton on my nephews and niece alone just to spoil them.

teenage pregnancy

Source: NYC.gov

Okay, fine. But this won’t fix that.

You see what I mean? These are all valid points, and statistically they’re true. But they reek of judgment, and being judgmental isn’t going to fix anything. Education, which the PSAs cite in the last photo, is the true key to ending teenage pregnancy, as is access to affordable birth control, sex education and increased self-worth. If we continue to look down on teenage pregnancy and judge teen moms, we’re wasting valuable time that could be used to provide resources to prevent the root causes.

This is aside from the fact that it seems like the teenage pregnancy PSAs make it seem like teenagers are getting pregnant on purpose, which is pretty absurd. If that’s what they think is really going on, you’d think they have used pictures of ugly kids to be more discouraging.

Do you think these teenage pregnancy PSAs are effective? Do you think these ads will discourage teenage pregnancy? How do you think we should curb teenage pregnancy? What would you do or say differently in these teenage pregnancy PSAs? Tell us in the comments!

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Posted in: Teen Pregnancy
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  • Nyctimene

    I would agree, though I think it’s interesting to note that you oppose these ads but you wrote a piece in 2012 (“Think You Want A Baby? Think Again!”) that espouses essentially these identical facts.

    That aside, yes. Beyond judgment not working, teens who aren’t pregnant or parenting don’t care about ads like this. Just like you probably don’t pay much attention to ads targeting obese people if you’re not obese, ads targeting a different ethnic group if you aren’t part of that, ads targeting sports fan if you don’t care about that sport, etc. Since they aren’t planning on becoming a parent, they don’t spend a lot of time worrying about their [potential] child that will never be.

    Ads with information on local Planned Parenthoods, birth control methods, Plan B places and info, etc would be far more useful to stemming the tide than these. At least those are informative. These just whine the same stats that we’ve heard ad nauseum for 50+ years.