Feministing highlights an initiative by the Candie’s Foundation that tries to prevent teen pregnancy and ends up doing far more harm than good:
May is National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month, which basically means it’s the season for teen mom shaming. And damn if the Candie’s Foundation doesn’t deliver! On May 1 they revealed their new celebrity-endorsed PSAs, which include lots of messages that provide the super useful combo of shame and no actual helpful information whatsoever. I want to throw up all over these.
You can view the PSA’s here, but I’ll save you the time. They’ve all got the common theme of telling teen girls that if they get pregnant, they won’t have time or money for anything else and their lives are ruined forever now.
Feministing sums it up nicely:
How about some real solutions? How about increasing access to contraception and abortion for young women who don’t want to become parents but can’t afford these options? How about acknowledging that these even exist and are safe and effective? How about working toward a world in which young parents have the support they and their children need to thrive? We need less shaming and more expansion of health care access, less useless PSAs and more support for young parents to stay and do well in school….It’s obvious that these initiatives serve only to add stigma and do nothing to address the material conditions that actually affect young families and the poor outcomes that they can face: access to things like education, affordable health care, childcare, housing.
The entire focus of Candie’s ad campaign is to tell teen girls how terrible it is to be a parent. Then the teen pregnancy rate will drop because… why? Teen girls will just decide to stop becoming pregnant? If the Candie’s Foundation wanted to reduce the teen pregnancy rate, they’d provide information on contraception access and use. But instead, they use their advertising campaign to yell at girls for being pregnant. Their information on contraception is buried on a couple of external links in tiny print on the bottom of a single page on their website. That’s it.
In fact, they never mention that their ad campaign helps lower the teen pregnancy rate. What they do say is this:
Research has shown that teen girls who have been exposed to the foundation and its messages are more likely to view teen pregnancy and parenthood as stressful and negative.
You’d think that if the research had shown that “the foundation and it’s messages” had actually helped solve the problem they’re trying to solve, they’d be promoting that all over the place. Instead, it’s rather noticeably absent. They instead focus on how well they stigmatize teen pregnancy, so that girls will feel even more shame when they do get pregnant. Good work there.
If the Candie’s Foundation really wanted to lower the teen pregnancy rate, they would be fighting to provide easy access to contraception and abortion services. They would be fighting against abstinence-only sex education in schools. They would be fighting to provide childcare and financial assistance to young mothers, and they would be fighting to keep them in school. They would be countering harmful messages in media that stigmatize and shame young girls for becoming pregnant, and they would be fighting to ensure that teen mothers have the resources they need to succeed.
But they don’t do this. Instead, they spend all their time and money telling teen girls how much pregnancy sucks and how terrible their lives will be if they get pregnant. In fact, by reinforcing the stigma against teen mothers, they’re making the lives of teen mothers much worse. If you agree, you can contact them here and let them know.
Update: You can also sign this petition to get Candie’s to stop shaming and stigmatizing young mothers.