New research has found that teen pregnancy is at its lowest in more than 10 years. However, teen pregnancy still continues to be a public health issue in that the United States has the highest rates of teen pregnancy in comparison to other industrialized countries. Here in the South Bronx, there have been many local collaboratives that have been established to help address the issue of teen pregnancy in the community. Most recently a strategically combined initiative of various community-based organizations, “The Bronx Teen Connection” has been established a coalition to collectively address the issue of teen pregnancy on a larger, community-wide intervention.
The Bronx Teen Connection works primarily in the communities of the South Bronx; Hunts Point, Morrisonia, Longwood, and the South Bronx. Agencies that participate in this collective initiative include, Planned Parenthood, Children’s Aids Society, Urban Health Plan, Inc. & School-Based Health Centers, and Community Health Care Network among other grantees.
This program is also funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in collaboration with the federal Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health (OASH) Office of Adolescent Health, as part of the President’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative (NYCDOH, 2012).
This month the coalition launched a new ad campaign to prevent teen pregnancy as part of their 5-year grant deliverables. The new ads encourage teens in the South Bronx to use both condoms and contraception together to help reduce the risk of unplanned pregnancies and HIV/AIDS transmission. From theses ads teens can see that using both these methods can provide optimal sexual health in that the chances of an unplanned pregnancy occurring is becomes greatly slim when both forms are used.
An article was also releases in the Metro newspaper on the new ad campaigns highlighting the intentions of these ads and providing a framework for the new initiative and what the collaborative aims at providing. Metro writes, “The campaign is part of the city’s efforts to ensure that all teens have the information, skills and resources to make healthy decisions about their sexual and reproductive health.”
Even though these ads provide teen-friendly messages about safe sex practices, some might still be in objection to this new initiative. Many say that these ads promote sexual promiscuity and actually increase the onset of sexual activity. According to a blog post by Michael Benjamin, these ads are “further sexualizing our youth and encouraging sexual promiscuity among Hispanic and Blacks.” Not only are these ads promoting sexual activity, he also claims that these ads are “misinforming teens” by saying that “…condoms and birth control together will prevent HIV, other STDs and pregnancy. Birth control does not prevent HIV/STD transmission.”
Once again, as he also states in his blog, we have opposition from people who do not know what is to be a teen living in the South Bronx. Sorry to burst your bubble of critiscm here Mr. Benjamin, but teens are having sex whether we promote it or not. The reality is, teenagers are experimental creatures and sex cannot be put into the same categories as drug or alcohol addiction because it is apart of life. Sex is an intimate act of expression and what should be most concerning is that teens are educated, aware, full of knowledge, and can make healthy decisions on their own.
It is obvious, even to a teen, that birth control does not in fact prevent the transmission of STD/HIV. However, this ad does not blatantly say that birth control prevents transmission. Birth control is used as a back-up method when condoms fail to provide pregnancy prevention.
As an educator, I work with teens 40hours a week in the South Bronx. I know what it is to live an unplanned teen pregnancy, abortion, and the confusion of choosing the right birth control. I would have benefitted from information like this if they had existed years ago. These teens need more education, support, youth development, and creativity to stir positive development in their lives. They do not need conservative creeps such as yourself constructing barriers of uninformed and misguided politics.
I support this movement and those similar to this that are yet to come…