NYC teen pregnancy ads stigmatize young mothers, hurt Latinas, don’t support teen parents

The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) condemns the new teen pregnancy ad campaign launched by the City this week. It relies on harmful stereotypes and stigmatizes young mothers — all to distribute information that ignores their realities and provides teens with no access to medically accurate, culturally appropriate or socially relevant information.
This campaign is particularly problematic for young Latinos/as. Structural barriers like immigration status, language, poverty and discrimination prevent Latinas from accessing important reproductive care like contraception, leading to higher rates of unintended pregnancy. Instead of launching a fruitful conversation about these barriers, the Administration relied on public shaming and scare tactics.
“Myths, rather than realities, have too often guided the public discourse about young Latinas and pregnancy. The administration had an opportunity to correct these myths and instead reinforced them,” said Jessica González-Rojas, executive director of NLIRH.
Along with the ads, the Administration launched a text messaging “game” that encourages teens to text to follow along with a teen couple that has learned they are pregnant. Following the games’ rules generates responses like:

“I will look huge in my prom dress”
“My BFF called me a ‘fat loser’ at prom”
“First my parents diss me, now my BFF. She has stopped calling me.”
“He’s avoiding me. Do you think he will stay with me?”

Contraception, abortion or sex ed are never discussed.
“Young people and their families need medically accurate, culturally-appropriate and socially relevant information to make healthy and informed decisions about their lives. And they need increased access to contraception,” González-Rojas said. “Painting teen parents as failures addresses none of those needs and provides less than zero support for teen parents. I would welcome a conversation with the Administration about how they can do better for NYC teens.”
The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health is the only national organization working on behalf of the reproductive health and justice of the 24 million Latinas, their families and communities in the United States through public education, community mobilization and policy advocacy.

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