I’d rather not waste my time and energy listing all the reasons why I don’t like Michael Bloomberg, but he has gone so far this time that even Planned Parenthood is denouncing him. Mayor Bloomberg and the NYC Human Resources Administration Department of Social Services have unveiled an ad campaign to prevent teen parenting, which can be summed up only as causing stigma, shame, and fear.
What else would you call pictures of crying toddlers with captions such as “Honestly Mom… chances are he won’t stay with you. What happens to me?” Another one reads, “I’m twice as likely not to graduate high school because you had me as a teen.”
A post about the campaign and statements from Planned Parenthood has appeared on Yahoo!:
“The latest NYC ad campaign creates stigma, hostility and negative public opinions about teen pregnancy and parenthood rather than offering alternative aspirations for young people,” Haydee Morales, vice president of education and training at Planned Parenthood’s New York office, said in a statement released on Wednesday. “The city’s money would be better spent helping teens access health care, birth control and high-quality sexual and reproductive health education, not an ad campaign intended to create shock value.”
According to the health department, the city’s teen pregnancy rate has fallen 27 percent in the past decade. But Morales said stigmatizing teens who have already become parents “has not been a part of what has led to this success.
I don’t agree with Planned Parenthood completely – no shock there. But I will say that Morales does use excellent word choice, particularly with her first sentence. That is exactly what Mayor Bloomberg and this campaign is doing: “creat[ing] stigma, hostility and negative public opinions.” As Morales also later mentions, this campaign is “stigmatizing” for those who have already become parents.
And what about these teen parents, and their children, innocent human beings who didn’t ask to be conceived but were lucky enough not to be aborted? What is the city doing for them? Nobody is saying encourage teens to have babies at such an age, but certainly there are more compassionate ways to go about such prevention, no? And it raises the question: what do we do once the child already exists?
Morales has mentioned there being “stigma” twice, and I think it is worth mentioning again. There’s also fear and, most importantly, a lack of hope and help. Creating such an ad campaign will do nothing to help those who actually need it; rather, it just dehumanizes and demonizes teen parents and their children. That doesn’t sound like a hopeful message for the future or a real option to me.
Though the Yahoo! article mentions that teen pregnancy rates are dropping, they’re apparently not dropping enough for Mayor Bloomberg. Again, I’m not encouraging teen pregnancy, but I can’t help but feel as if the city is outright demonizing real, actual people with these ads and trying to prevent them from even existing. It goes to show that contraception; Plan B, which NYC schools give out like candy; and abortion are such examples where Mayor Bloomberg and the city are attempting to use a quick fix rather than solve the larger problem.
Unfortunately, when it comes to Mayor Bloomberg’s record of support for Plan B, graphic sexuality education, and abortion, I’m saddened, but not all that shocked.