Teen Mom Shaming vs Teen Pregnancy Prevention

What is with this unnecessary need to shame, bully, and stereotype teen mothers in an attempt to decrease teen pregnancy? Teen pregnancy prevention campaigns DO NOT have to be at the expense of a teen mom’s dignity. It doesn’t work, it isn’t fair, and it’s only perpetuating a stigma that further increases the isolation of young parents who need support. Quite frankly, it’s extremely sexist too! I don’t see an ad shaming teen dads? If my comprehensive sexual educating cohorts are correct, it takes two to make a baby.

In this pathetic and desperate attempt to eliminate teen pregnancy, the adults who sat around this campaign and ok’d it knew that it would send a horrible message to teens: “Teen moms suck so don’t become one.” And of course, the baby couldn’t be a happy baby and it had to be a baby that didn’t look just white. No. We have to not only perpetuate the idea that teen moms suck, but also that it’s a minority issue. It’s an unhappy minority baby with an awful teen mom. Yes, let’s bring racism into this too, NYC, with no additional information or follow up. Great idea. {Read with extreme sarcasm}

How is this campaign going to prevent teen pregnancy? Someone please explain how this is a comprehensive educational and positive way to encourage safe sex or abstinence? It there any mention anywhere of how someone can prevent pregnancy? Anywhere? Bueller? 

When I was a teen, I knew how hard it was to be a teen mom because I saw it in my family and in families around me. My mom was a teen mom, my grandmother was a teen mom, my aunt was a teen mom, my cousin was a teen mom, and so many more. Yes, I saw girls drop out of school and struggle with many aspects of their lives. I didn’t need a lame ad with a picture of a crying baby (who of course had to resemble a minority) to tell me that. Yet, at 17, I still became a teen mom and it was NOT what I wanted for myself. I never thought to myself, “Ahhh yes, statistics say my kid would be twice as likely to not graduate than kids born to moms over 22. SO, I will have a baby now before 22 and accept the challenge.” So what makes you think most teens are going to think the opposite? Pregnancies are usually unplanned and accidental. These ads don’t prevent unplanned pregnancies.

As a teen mom, my life has seen some insanely high peaks of hell and it wasn’t because of my pregnancy or motherhood, it was because of the crappy experiences I had to endure with people who were (and still are) judgmental and bitter. When I wanted to apply for college in high school, my guidance counselor told me not to bother - that I should focus on trying to graduate high school first and apply to a community college IF that even happened. When I turned to people for support, they threw statistics into my face and told me I was what these very ads portrayed. I wasn’t. I’m not. And most teen moms aren’t. Until today, I still hear the “Well, you should have thought about that before becoming a mom.” 

It’s this very concept of shaming teen moms that drives us into a deeper hole of isolation. I didn’t want to tell anyone that I was a teen mom, I didn’t want to ask for help, I refused to apply for any aid, and I put myself in unhealthy situations so I wouldn’t have to face the judgment of others. It was horrible. Yet, no one ever bothered to talk to me about the occurences in my life that led up to my pregnancy. Or what my life was like before becoming a pregnant teen. No one knew that I was already depressed in high school. No one knew that I already faced many of the adversities that teen moms face too. My life may have been exactly the same if I hadn’t become a teen mom but no one cared to look at me until there was a baby involved (that no one really cared about either).

If you are genuinely interested in seeing teen pregnancy rates decrease,  encourage your school, city and state to provide comprehensive sexual education, increase access to birth control and emergency contraception, provide youth with honest (non-bias) answers when they have questions, and be the support teens need… THEN you will see your numbers decrease. Until then, good luck to NYC with this horrible ad. 

 

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