You’d think any self-respecting teen pregnancy prevention campaign would provide lots of information about how to use contraception and how to have healthy conversations with sexual partners - the best ways to avoid unplanned pregnancy. That hasn’t been happening.
During the National Month to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, it’s important to acknowledge that teen pregnancy prevention in the US takes a very simplistic approach — campaign after campaign shames young parents while telling young people that getting pregnant is a matter of individual responsibility. No information. No support. Just blame.
These campaigns scapegoat young parents and accuse them of being failures, not just as parents but at having a happy and successful life. But that’s not the real story. Young parents are trying to graduate high school against the odds. Trying to work and support their families. Trying to rise above all the shame… And succeeding.
In Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles, three organizations who are working in partnership with young parents have launched a new campaign for Mama’s Day (Strong Families). It’s not a “teen pregnancy prevention campaign.” It’s a campaign about respecting & supporting young parents.
The Massachusetts Alliance on Teenage Pregnancy, the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health, and California Latinas for Reproductive Justice all have young parents who are shaping their reproductive justice work around Title IX in schools, birth justice, and effecting policies like lactation accommodations and peer-to-peer doula models.
Young parents have a lot of advice to offer both teens and adults. They are flipping the script on what it means to be young, parenting or pregnant, and above all, wise. It’s time we all gave respect and support to young parents.