California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

    NYC uses scare tactics in teen pregnancy campaign

    The new educational ad campaign that New York City is using to prevent teen pregnancy is only causing teenagers to feel bad about themselves, especially those who are already teen parents.

    The ads, which are posted around the city at bus stops, have pictures of crying babies saying, “I’m twice as likely not to graduate high school because you had me as a teen,” and another saying, “Honestly Mom… chances are he won’t stay with you. What happens to me?”

    This kind of scare tactic is not persuading teens to stay abstinent. It just makes people feel bad for teen mothers, who are working hard to beat the statistics they’re labeled with.

    These ads are attaching a harsh stigma to teen motherhood and are not focusing on the real issues that surround teenage pregnancies.

    “Generally, highly negative campaigns do not work well because people tend to block out or not attend to things that they find very aversive,” said Julie Kuehnel, psychology department chair at CLU. “For optimum impact you need to shoot for something that is moderately arousing, interesting, but not highly aversive.”

    “I do feel like this campaign is judgment covered up with good intentions,” said senior Nina Kuzniak, a Wellness Programs intern. “I fully support NYC’s movement to more accessible and comprehensive sex education, but I doubt there would ever be a campaign that painted children of single parents, gay parents or parents with terminal illnesses in the same light. It is disenfranchising. While I can’t speak to whether or not it actually helps to deter unplanned teenage pregnancy, I am almost certain that the ways in which it stigmatizes [teen pregnancy] will prevent teenage mothers from seeking the help they need.”

    The advertising campaign is making a group of parents feel alienated even more than they may already be.

    I truly hope it will not stop teenagers from getting help, but with such a negative campaign, that may be the outcome.

    According to, “Teens living in poverty are more likely to get pregnant.”

    It would make much more sense to me if ads were to focus on fighting poverty and at least promote safe sex and provide education on the topic.

    “Studies have shown that individuals of a lower socioeconomic status are more likely to participate in risky sexual behavior,” said senior Melissa Flores. “Since this is the case, New York should take more actions to help with poverty and bringing people to a more stable socioeconomic status.”

    I completely agree with Flores. There are many other ways to fight teenage pregnancy. New York should work on educating teens, not scaring them. The only assistance the campaign offers is the part on the ad that asks people to text a number to get more information.

    According to a New York Times article, “The posters include a number to text to receive facts about teenage pregnancy and to play a game about a pregnant teenager, Anaya, and her boyfriend, Louis.”

    After someone texts the number, they will then receive a text with a particular issue or challenge facing teenagers. Then, the player is encouraged to text back a solution to the problem.

    An example of a text from the campaign says “Anaya and Louis are 16-year-olds that just got pregnant.”If you continue playing the game by responding to the texts, it sends more. For example, another text says, “My BFF called me a loser at prom…should I text her back?” The player is then encouraged to answer yes or no, and the game will continue.

    These texts are wrong. It makes no sense that this kind of game would be helpful for teens.

    “The text messages are presented in such a horrible, negative way that if it was me, I would either stop texting or stop taking it in a serious way,” said Flores.

    I don’t think this campaign is acceptable. The campaign is  pushing people to see the negatives of teen pregnancy, but they are not really educating people about it.


    Veronica Manzo
    Staff Writer
    Published March 20, 2013

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