Two weeks ago, we here at the Voice reported on the new campaign conducted by the Department for Social Services. Along with a YouTube video series and teen texting program, anti-teenage-pregnancy ads that should make you feel uncomfortable were introduced to straphangers on subways across the five boroughs.
(For a reminder of what they look like, check out this one on the right and the rest of them here).
Seriously, it was only a matter of time before someone (or a few people) got pissed.
Last Friday, State Senator Liz Kreuger voiced her opinion on the matter. And she didn’t take it so lightly:
This campaign seems laser-focused on shaming already-struggling teen parents or, ludicrously, convincing teens not to get pregnant because really bad things will happen — sort of a failed abstinence-only sex-ed curriculum on steroids. At best, this is the wrong message for the wrong audience — at worst, this could actually lead to more abandoned children.
Following suit, Councilwoman Annabel Palma, a teen mother once, argued that they were a shameful way of fixing the ‘problem.’ “I was once a teenage mother. And I can imagine how teenage mothers across the city feel right now: shamed and stigmatized by Mayor Bloomberg’s ad campaign against them,” Ms. Palma said.
But it doesn’t seem like the Mayor sees eye-to-eye with his female counterparts.
In his defense, Mr. Bloomberg argued in his weekly radio address that the best advertising is the most edgy. In other words, go big or… no one’s listening to you. But, with an issue as sensitive as teenage pregnancy, do these rules of the game still apply? We’re not so sure.
“In the days of so much media hitting everybody, if you want to stand out you got to really do something different, dramatic… If you have a baby, you have a responsibility and we’ll do everything we can to help. And hopefully the kid will turn out to be a Nobel Prize winner and take case of his parents-or her parents-when they retire. But you got to do something dramatic to get the message through. And that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Well, according to Ms. Palma and Ms. Kreuger, the campaign is a bit too dramatic. And the recent controversy with Plan B in schools doesn’t really help. It’s safe to say that, as long as those subway ads are seen by thousands, if not millions, of New Yorkers every day, this will not be the last time we’ll hear about them.
The Voice will keep you updated.