Are Teen Safe Sex PSAs Too Controversial?Danielle Sullivan
A New York state funded series of web videos created for teens by teens in order to teach them about safe sex, STDs and pregnancy is causing controversy. Some feel the “racy language” is disturbing and simply not the way money for safe sex campaigns should be spent. I heard the story on the news this morning when the reporters mentioned how they could barely show many of the parts on TV, in fact. The language was just too bad for TV viewers.
The ‘ More Than Just Sex’ series posted on Vimeo.com features five public service announcements and the campaign is meant to target inner city kids. The NY Daily News reports that the non-profit Community Health Network who created the videos received more than $560,000 over five years to fund safe sex education campaigns. $15,000 was used for the video production.
Assemblyman Rafael Espinal agrees that the videos “capture the realities of what is happening in inner-city neighborhoods like the ones I represent.” But he also says some of them “shouldn’t be accessible to children under 13,” he said. “The language is too raw.”
A spokeswoman for State Sen. Marty Golden who referred to the videos as “alarming” and that they “advocated for safe sex in a roundabout way.”
Yet reports estimate that over 50% of city teens are already having sex. Do they think these ads broadcast anything they haven’t already heard in school? I highly doubt it. On the contrary, I tend to think the ads are tame in comparison.
The website writes that these videos were created to “empower young people to make positive decisions, create social change, and reduce the rates of teen pregnancy, STD’s and HIV.”
In a video called “The Importance of Condoms!”, a teen boy is talking about how he chose to stop using condoms. “It just got so boring. It was all glove and no love.” Then he says how he’s so much happier now that he’s “raw dogging”. It is done in a very sarcastic manner making him appear foolish when a voice over (similar to those insane medication commercials that list side effects worse than the disease) says “Unprotected sex may not be for every one. Side effects include genital warts, green or yellow discharge, pregnancy, HIV, loss of sight, diarrhea, etc… (The list goes on.) “Other symptoms may include Baby Mama Drama, Baby Mama Mama Drama, Commitment Drama, Parental Beatdowns, Deep Lasting Regret”.
This is the most explicit of all the videos and about as controversial as the language gets. While it is slang, that is how many teens talk. Even teens who don’t speak that way, hear this language every day.
Another video shows a girl discussing what happens when you go to a free clinic and walks her through the steps, stressing that it’s easy and free to get checked out at any time. A video entitled “Respect the Line” shows different scenarios when teen boys are being disrespectful to girls and asks them to draw a line at their own behavior.
I think these PSAs are clever and might get kids thinking, talking, discussing. Honestly, they are so tame, they will probably cause laughter in a group of teens so I can’t understand how adults would think they’re so risque. Teens clearly see more sexual provocation on MTV. And they hear about it in school. Do people really think teens are that stupid, naive, or so innocent that they haven’t heard about a million different sexual references already? Teens are having sex and anything we can do to help promote safe sex, the prevention of pregnancy and STDs is a good thing.
What do you think? Do you find these videos “too racy” for most teens?
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