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Next Life, NO Kids: Slut Shaming Pregnant Teens Is NOT Okay, New York

April 04, 2013

Slut Shaming Pregnant Teens Is NOT Okay, New York

If an adult was taunting your child, teasing her, mocking her, every time she sat at the bus stop, you would be horrified, right? If a whole flock of adults were poking at your already sensitive teenaged girl every day on her way home from school, we'd call that "bullying" wouldn't we?
Well, it would appear that the New York Human Resource Administration (HRA) is doing just that with posters like this one. There are others that mention how unlikely a child of a teen mom is to graduate from high school, and another about the father paying child support his whole life, etc.

Slut shaming teen moms is NOT okay, New York
       Shame on who? I'm confused. 

Dear New York Human Resources Administration (HRA), 

I'm confused and hoping that you can help shed some light. I understand that you don't want my teenage daughter to get pregnant, but I am really unclear and concerned about the motivation behind your ads. Telling my daughter that her boyfriend is going to leave her if she gets pregnant does two things. a.) Gives my daughter another statistic to try to fight against with, "That won't happen to me" and  b.) Gives my daughter's boyfriend a justifiable and inevitable out.

Telling my daughter that if she gets pregnant, her child will unlikely graduate high school not only sets her up for failure if in fact she happens to get pregnant, it affects her own future. She is the child of a teen mom and for the record, he did stay with me and she is on track to graduate in 2014. Guess who else went to college? Me.
Now don't get me wrong, I can totally appreciate your desire to lower the rate of teen pregnancy. My daughter turned seventeen this year and is the age I was when I had her. I cannot believe how grown up I thought I was and that I believed I was ready. Let's be clear though, who's ever ready for the emotional, physical, and psychological toll motherhood takes? I'm not advocating for teen pregnancy, I'm just stating the obvious for you. I know first hand what it's like to have the eyes of judgment staring. I knew what they were thinking, but no one said it to my face. I know the embarrassment, struggle, and sacrifice. I get it, I was there. 

Being a seventeen year old mommy was not fun and if I could have done things differently I would have before I got pregnant. If I could ensure that I would have the same exact kid, but ten years later I would go back. The truth is however, that I would not have the same kid. I would not be the same mother as I am now. I would not be the perfect person to tell you that you're wrong to post these.  

These may work to deter teen girls from getting pregnant. Your tactics make me sick, but they might work. Let me ask you though, what about the teen that's already pregnant sitting at this bus stop? What reaction should she have? Do you think she might feel hopeless and helpless enough before your condemning poster? Are you prepared for the rate of suicide or babies found in dumpsters to increase? Because as we've seen in the past, these are also alternatives for scared, ashamed, pregnant girls to avoid being teen moms. Are you planning on following them home after seeing your posters to make sure that they're okay? Will you slap them with reality to their faces? Are you prepared to provide them with counseling? I didn't think so. 

These are our children!!! They are making poor choices, but poking a judgmental finger at a problem doesn't solve it.

I also find it interesting that the only references to the daddies I've seen on these "ads" involve financials and fleeing. Hmmm... It sounds kind of like you might be placing the brunt of the blame on the girls then? Perfect.

Our girls are feeling the pressure from every single angle possible. MTV is saying that it's totally boss to get preggers at sixteen 'cuz you can totes have your own reality show! Seriously though, how many seasons of this shitshow train wreck do we need access to? How many teens are out getting pregnant right now so they can audition for season 35? Focus on that shit! It seems pretty obvious to me that these shows have pull. Why not produce a "Sixteen and Celibate" or "Sixteen and Savin' IT" show? Maybe we could follow these kids through the pressures of NOT having sex and support the teens that aren't having sex too early just because everyone else is. Make abstinence cool by making those kids famous.

I don't know, I guess I don't have the answers either, but these posters are cruel and only perpetuate the stigma. Teen life might end due to the birth of a baby, but life itself doesn't. I am a success story. There is and always should be hope for everyone, regardless of their circumstances. Even though it was hard, and messy, and intrusive, and scary, I did it. 

Then again, I didn't have too many people around telling me I couldn't. 


-An Amazing Example That Anything Is Possible With Support

For more information about this campaign, visit http://www.nyc.gov/html/hra/html/programs/teen_pregnancy_campaign.shtml

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At 4/04/2013 , Anonymous Dana said...

Wow, Julie. I saw your FB post early, and I have to say I agreed with many of those who commented - I thought the campaign was a good one. But you bring up so many excellent points that I never considered - and I suspect the New York HRA didn't either. Your sound argument against these posters changed my mind - you should write controversial posts more often! Well done.

At 4/04/2013 , Anonymous Julie Of Next Life, NO Kids said...

Thanks Dana! I REALLY appreciate the feedback. The posters hit a nerve and I enjoyed writing it. Thanks again, SO much!!

At 4/04/2013 , Anonymous Diana C said...

I hate when people tell me they are so glad they had boys instead of girls. Why? They always say because what are you going to do if she gets pregnant. What am I going to do? I am going to knock down your door and beat your son's ass. That's what I'm going to do.

At 4/04/2013 , Anonymous Julie Of Next Life, NO Kids said...

Haha, Right? You're not kidding. Not to mention that a parent, regardless of which side, should be involved, NO? Why would they be off the hook because their son isn't carrying the baby? I don't understand that. Do you think that's society talking?

At 4/04/2013 , Anonymous Lisa Newlin said...

GOOD FOR YOU! I didn't realize you were a teen mom and went on to college. Rock on! YOU should be the person on that ad promoting personal responsibility. That's what the world is missing. No one takes responsibility for their actions anymore. If they did, we wouldn't need this ad.

At 4/04/2013 , Anonymous Break the Mom Mold said...

I love you more than anyone in the world. The reason why i said "things that make you go hmm" is because I completely agree with your point of view in this post, but since everyone was all "yeah, you tell em" I was afraid to be the bad guy, for that I am sorry. I deplore confrontation and only instigate it in the form of my blog where it is completely one sided. That being said, you sing it! And crap, now I'm crying! WTF! It's my meds....I'm switching and I'm kinda in limbo. But no....it's you, it's your brutal honesty and truth. I could not have said any of it better if I tried. I am disgusted by this campaign, it is exactly what you said. It is bullying and hurtful and just plain mean. Why not let them know there is a support network out there for them? There are people who will help them? Who will teach them skills, help them find solutions. Instead we shame them? Let's you and me start to produce "Sixteen and Savin' it"! I love your face!

At 4/05/2013 , Anonymous Jessica Smock said...

Thanks for writing this post. I understand the message behind the campaign, but it seems so self-perpetuating to tell kids this. When you study education, one of the biggest facts that you learn quickly is the power of expectations. When you communicate to a child that he or she will fail (and/or succeed), chances are better than not that the child will rise to meet your expectations. Communicating failure and fear to a child, even a teenager, never seems like a good idea to me.

At 4/05/2013 , Anonymous Julie Of Next Life, NO Kids said...

Thanks Lisa! Yup, I'm the 35 year old mom of a 17 year old girl...WHAT?!? SO weird. Thank you for your kind words. You are so right about the lack of personal responsibility these days. It is wicked sad! <--- had to throw in a little Boston atcha ;)

At 4/05/2013 , Anonymous Julie Of Next Life, NO Kids said...

Awww, you're so sweet! Let's do it. MTV can suck it....as long as they use protection. I love YOUR face. XOXO

At 4/05/2013 , Anonymous Julie Of Next Life, NO Kids said...

Thank you for your comment Jessica. I could not agree with you more. Our kids are looking for guidance from us and they are listening to our tone. I absolutely believe that they will rise to our expectations IF we set them. This campaign is a far cry from that which I'd like to set for my kids.

At 4/05/2013 , Anonymous Amanda Bruce said...

This is awesome. I, one, love that you defied a statistic and two, love that you're sticking it to this ad campaign. Also - totally discriminatory that they portray men as absent and won't pay - there are a lot of men who stick around. Great post. Ads can be so influential.

At 4/07/2013 , Anonymous Diana C said...

I think the parents definitely should have involvement. Their parenting led to that point. And yes, I think society is screwed up and has driven these children to make dumb mistakes, but the parents are ultimately the back bone.

I have a friend who blames EVERYONE else when her child does something wrong. It's her husband, or MIL, or me (as I'm her care giver). However 'society' has affected her child, doesn't mean that gives her an excuse to back out of parenting.

That's my opinion.

At 4/09/2013 , Anonymous Kari Furness said...

I am so glad I stumbled across this post today (came from the Honest Voices linkup). You bring up some very solid points, but the one that stood out to me was your suggestion about the reality shows. I am disgusted by the glory and riches that these shows heap upon these kids, encouraging other kids to make poor choices so they too can have a shot at their 15 minutes of fame. I for one would tune in every week to see 16 and celibate. The networks could do so much good if they wanted too... but the sad reality is that sleaze sells a lot better than anything else. :(

At 4/09/2013 , Anonymous Felicia said...

wow, those are crazy ads. Thanks for bringing it to light. . . there are so many things that lead up to the pregnancy that it seems ridiculous to think that these billboards would be some kind of solution.

At 4/09/2013 , Anonymous Roshni Aamom said...

This does seem to be borderline bullying and invoking the fear factor. I haven't seen these in my city, but who knows if they're there in the college area! I love your take on it!! I just voted for your post!

At 4/10/2013 , Anonymous Kristi Campbell said...

OMG I can't believe that poster. You are so right that there should always be hope for everybody. Each situation is utterly unique. Great post!

At 4/10/2013 , Anonymous Tracy Winslow Momaical said...

This line is KILLER "MTV is saying that it's totally boss to get preggers at sixteen 'cuz you can totes have your own reality show!" Great post love! And, congrats to you and your husband on beating that statistic and raising a kick ass family.

At 4/10/2013 , Anonymous A Mother Life said...

What a thought provoking post! Why are they shaming teens? They should be providing free education, free birth control and free medical intervention or emotional/practical support, whatever the poor pregnant teen may find herself in need of. I think these teen pregnancy shows are disgusting and refuse to waste my time, but it appears IM in the minority. Shame on the networks for cashing in on this and shame on us for watching it and rating it in such a way that the networks even see a cash cow. A life, be it teenage or infant should be thought of with more concern and respect. Prevention is always better than cure. We need to teach girls how to stay safe and boys how to be responsible for their actions. But for those whole fall pregnant prematurely they need support not shaming. Thank you so much for linking up to the Hump Day Hook Up!

At 4/14/2013 , Anonymous Michelle Mossey said...

Good post! And kudos to you for making the most out of your difficult situation. It's amazing what you can do if you are determined and you have people supporting you. Stopping by from Hump Day Hook Up! :)

At 5/15/2013 , Anonymous Next Life, NO Kids said...

I am so sorry it has taken me so long to respond to your comment. For some reason I did not get notification and for that I apologize! It is totally amazing what can be accomplished with the right amount of support. Thank you so much for stopping by! Again, really sorry for the delay in getting back to you!! :)

At 5/15/2013 , Anonymous Next Life, NO Kids said...

Thank Molley!! I'm sorry it has taken so long to respond, I think there was something wrong with DISQUS or something because I didn't get notification :( I'm in TOTAL agreement with you about it being our responsibility to pass good judgement and education to our kids. Girls AND boys need to know and understand the responsibilities that come along with sex and its consequences. I HATE those reality television shows so you are SO not alone. Thank you again so much and please do accept my apologies for the delay in my response. ;)

At 5/15/2013 , Anonymous Next Life, NO Kids said...

Thank you Tracy, I'm sorry it took so long to get back, I didn't get notifications of new comments. :( I appreciate you stopping by and taking the time to read and comment so much! MTV used to be so totally boss... it's just totally junk now. :(

At 5/15/2013 , Anonymous Next Life, NO Kids said...

Thanks Kristi! Sorry for the delay, I did not get notification of your comment. :( I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Thank you for popping by!! :)

At 5/15/2013 , Anonymous Next Life, NO Kids said...

Thanks Roshni, You rock. I'm sorry it took so long to respond. My DISQUS wasn't working or something because I did not get notification of your comment. :( Good thing I popped in and saw it! Thanks again! :)


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