I am so insulted by the Teen Pregnancy campaign initiated by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. As a single mom who is subjected to sad statistics that are supposed to demonstrate my life, I get why so many people are enraged. Stats indicate my son will likely start a drug ring and be imprisoned.
The ads are splashed across NYC. Tearful toddlers who happen to be black or hispanic (stereotyping much?) and the words: “I’m twice as likely not to graduate high school because you had me as a teen.”
Another one says: “If you finish high school, get a job, and get married before having children, you have a 98% chance of not being in poverty.”
I’m a closet case MTV Teen Mom 2 watcher and I am not a fan of Jenelle Evans, who on last night’s episode admitted to not seeing her son, Jace, because she was busy with her (then) boyfriend, Keiffer and contemplating breast implants.
Today, it’s trending that she has left rehab after just 4 days. She also had a speedy marriage-divorce with Courtland Rodgers and the two now publicly fight on Twitter. This is an example of a teen mom that most would agree does fit the profile for these ads, but the issue I have is that we are underestimating these babies. Jace is in the custody of his grandma (who by all rights has proven to be a tad unhinged on the reality show). Still, give the kid a chance. And instead of belittling teen moms, why not help them? This ad doesn’t provide info about safe sex or how to attain low-cost or free birth control.
In comparison to Jenelle (who I would actually love to mentor), you look at cutie single mom Chelsea and her daughter Aubrey. This is a teen mom that is truly in love with her baby girl. She worked hard to get her GED. She is in beauty school. She puts up with a lot of crap from Aubrey’s dad, Adam. Last night, she was crying in the car to her friend and I really connected to her—to a teen and I’m 32! She sobbed that Adam doesn’t have to worry about a house, the baby, finding sitters. He sees her when he wants. I get this. I have days where I think, OMG, JD’s dad doesn’t have to freak out in traffic at the end of the day because he’s going to be late to aftercare. He doesn’t have to do … anything.
Putting these reality stars away, I’m mostly insulted because a girlfriend of mine got pregnant senior year of HS. Yep, in the high class town of Wayne where kids drive beamers. There was no poverty. Her kids will graduate HS with honors. She is married to the awesome guy and they have 3 biological kids, a house, and a beautiful life. I see her success in black and white. How about a poster like that? I made it work!
Planned Parenthood slammed the ads saying: “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.”
I’m not advocating teen pregnancy, but these ads strip teen moms of their dignity and tell kids born to teen moms they will amount to nothing. This doesn’t seem helpful and provides zero service to a teen who may find herself pregnant. If I was a pregnant teen mom-to-be on an NYC subway and saw those ads, I’d cry. I’d feel ashamed and scared. I might go over the edge. I’d much rather see a sign for Planned Parenthood, an org that could help me make a sound decision, provide parenting classes and really get me ready to be a mom—make a choice that is best for me.
If any teen moms are reading, chin up! I’m on your side.
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Photo credit: NYT
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