Friday, March 8, 2013

New York City Teenage Pregnancy Ads

By now I am sure you have seen or at least heard about the new New York City teenage pregnancy ads (if not click here). 

To put it simply, these ads are a waste of resources and will not work. 

My first response upon seeing this ads was, why? Why of all things did the majors office and New York City agencies decide to put so much money into telling teen parents that they aren't shit, will never be shit, and are going to live a life of doom and gloom? 


The problem with these ads besides the fact that they are 
egregious, shame and blame driven is that they will not reach their target audience and stop teens from having sex. The mission of this ad campaign will not reach these teen because these teens aren't thinking about daycare cost and how their hypothetical future children will fare in school before having sex. If they had a pregnant teen saying I didn't think it would happen to me, call 1-800 to get information on how to protect yourself THAT would work more and it wouldn't further isolate young parents.

All teens think teenage pregnancy will not happen to them. Every. Single. One.


So until we start addressing that belief with comprehensive sex education and informing teens about how to engage in safe sex when they choose to have sex or the power of saying no and sticking to it when you feel pressured to have sex, NYC and the country is once again failing to meet the needs of its youth


And to all the people that say "truth hurts" please know that you can not tell me-as a teen mom- and all of my teenage parent peers our truth. You don't know and you won't ever know it by isolating us with such awful ads. 


Please know that the truth is:



The truth is older generations are failing to meet the needs of my generation and our blaming my generation in the process. 


119 comments:

  1. Shaming people never changes behavior. NEVER.

    The subject doesn't even have to be about teen pregnancy. Shame doesn't motivate or lift up; it tears down. It's a gross misuse of funds that could be channeled to comprehensive sex ed, birth control and condom distribution. Teens have sex. They will continue to have sex. Lets arm them with tools to protect each other from pregnancy and STIs.

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    1. Exactly Liz! As always right on point!

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    2. It's not obvious to me that the purpose of these ads is to prevent teens from having sex or to encourage safe sex. I think they're targeting teens who became pregnant for whatever reason (ignorance about contraception, contraception failure, rape...) and are considering having the child. While some teen mothers succeed, like Gloria has, I think it's fair to say that for many others it would be better if they aborted the pregnancy and had another child in ten years. I see the ads as reminders that having the child is a decision, that abortion might be the right thing to do, and that pregnant teenagers should think about the options soberly.

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    3. It is definitely a pro-abortion campaign. That said, killing a child is never a good thing; not for the mother and father and definitely not for the baby. Being a teen parent is not the ideal situation and there will be challenges, but so long as the mom and dad keep their head on straight, get in a positive and supportive environment, and work hard, they can finish school, go to college, work at accomplishing their dreams and raise a fantastic child. It may take a little longer, a different path, require some creative solutions, and again, hard work and a positive environment, but is very doable for anyone who doesn't give up and simply moves forward.

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    4. Shame absolutely works, it is a very powerful tool, how do you explain the decrease in smokers? Peopl have know smoking was bad for them for a very long time but it wasn't until smokers started to be looked down on that people actually quit smoking. The truth is most people care far more about what people will think of them than they do about real consequences. I'm not saying that's good or bad but it's incorrect to say shame doesn't change behavior.

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  2. It's like you said Gloria, none of those big wig government know ANYTHING about our personal journeys as teen mothers. The ads are a compkete slap in the face and I know plenty of teen moms who are changing stereotypes everyday. I choose not to even acknowledge those ridiculous ads!

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    1. I choose not to believe them because I know my truth but I feel I have to speak out against them because they are malicious.

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  3. Life is about choices. Choose wisely...

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    1. Making wise choices involves having good information and access to reliable health and education resources. Responsible and compassionate citizens make certain that everyone in society, at every age and every income level, have these.

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    2. How about this good information...if you are a female and you drop your drawers and have sex chances are really good you're going to get pregnant. If you get pregnant its going to cost a lot of money not only for prenatal care, but for well baby checks, formula, diapers, clothes, shoes, car seats, strollers, etc.

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    4. Have you also put into consideration that some young mothers were.raped and not necessarily gave their consent to have sex. And im not trying to start any problems but some teens in higher class families get pregnant and they get praised for avoiding to give life to those children but lower class teens get attacked when this happens. Worst of all they get no credit for actually deciding to give their children the gift of life.

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    5. How about THIS good information...How about male AND females dropping their pants putting on condoms? Makes perfect sense...No? You're oblivious to some very real issues "Anonymous".

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    6. "Anonymous 1" You know that males are part of the process too. Why are we ONLY concentrating on females?
      "Anonymous 2" You are very correct. It's females in the lower income bracket that are attacked. I never saw Bristol Palin get attacked?

      YES YES YES Brittany M :)

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  4. Wise older womanMarch 8, 2013 at 8:47 PM

    You may take offense at the pictures and the message, but the facts are still there. There is no positive side to teen sexual activity, but many downsides to it. Put YOURSELF first, not the sex drive of your partner. Let yourself grow, blossom, and become a confident young adult, who is mature enough to handle the emotion and aftermath of sex. Don't let it be just something to do. Make it your own, an extension of your soul, and an act of love.

    Do it when you are mature enough to handle it....and that includes using effective birth control, so that you have your children by choice, and not by accident. I find it hard to believe that teens really don't think they can get pregnant. You girls are not that stupid. You have seen enough of your friends get pregnant.

    Love yourself first....and then the young man in your life...when he IS a man.

    And this older generation is NOT failing to meet the needs of the younger generation. Look in the mirror. You alone are responsible for the birth of your child, not me. You are your own best advocate. Do the hard work by yourself, for yourself.

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    1. I am my best advocate and I completely agree that EVERYONE should wait to have sex and not feel as if they are forced into it. But why is it that when it comes to relationships and sex that we as a society leave our youth on their own to "figure" it out. That is a HUGE problem.

      Older generations are supposed to guide and help younger ones with accurate and sound information on how to identify health relationships and how to protect ourselves mentally and physically with education. We do not expect youth to learn math, reading, science, and writing on their own so why is it that we expect that when it comes to relationships, sex, and their changing bodies?

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    2. That's why the greatest gift an adult can give to any youth in their life is the gift of being a mentor. My heart breaks for young people who don't have that. Big Brothers and Big Sisters organizations deserve all the support they can get.

      And young mothers also need the guidance to come to the hard understanding of why sometimes adoption is the greatest act of love. With open adoptions being common these days, a young mother not ready to make the sacrifices a baby needs, doesn't have to say goodbye forever. Something to thing about....and hopefully get guidance for.

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  5. I've been a avid supporter comprehensive sex-ed over ab-only sex for years! Society needs to accept the fact that teens WILL have sex. We as a society need to adequately equip and educate the younger population on how to protect themselves properly. Telling these teens not to have sex does not tell them how to have sex properly. Subsequently, we have teen pregnancies and younger people adding to the CDC stats on STD's. It is time that we as a society WAKE UP and smell the coffee! Keep doing what you're doing Gloria...So proud of what you've accomplished.

    - Fellow Schoolmate

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    1. Thank you Brittany! You are so right and thank you for telling people the difference between anatomy and comprehensive sex ed. I could not have said it better myself.

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    2. No problem! People seem to want to use the two interchangeably but you can't. The county where I live and plenty of counties in the state have been given direction by the school board to teach ab-only sex ed. As big of an issue that teen pregnancy is, society tends to overlook the communicable disease factor. Some grown people can benefit from a proper comprehensive sex-ed course as well. Keep up the great work! :-)

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  6. First, these young girls need to realize that society does not owe them anything. You make choices and there are always consequences, good or bad, for those choices. If you choose to have sex and as a result get pregnant, that's on you. If you then can't afford to provide for the child without hand-outs then you need to do the unselfish thing and give the baby up for adoption. This idea that "it takes a village" to raise a child is bull. What it takes is responsible people who make good decisions that afford the child a stable home. The ads are great. Society needs to bring back the shame. YOU are the one short changing your child through your selfish behavior. What are you going to do when the child needs school clothes, field trip money, braces, college tuition? Wise up and keep your legs together. if you can't make wise decisions or yourself how on earth can you possible make good devious on behalf of a child.

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    1. Gloria graduated from high school with honors, is a senior in college, and works and cares for a growing, healthy child. She's clearly wise and strong and on the right path. There is nothing in her story that has shame attached to it; there is a responsible mother raising her child and moving forward responsibly into the world. Interesting how people so interested in "shaming" her (and by extension her child?) do so anonymously. Get out of the Old Testament and into the New Testament, where Jesus stopped the stone-throwers from hurting Mary Magdalene, and let everyone sit at His table.

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    2. Is she getting government aid? Medicaid? Food stamps? WIC? Maybe the rest of us are tired of working our butts off to support people who make poor life choice decisions and expect us to support them. Personally, I don't care how many children anyone has as long as my tax dollars don't have to pay to support them.

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    3. Shame on you. Society does not need to be shaming young women who made the hard decision to give up their childhood to become mothers. You do not have to agree with people's choices, but it does not give you the right to belittle nor judge them.

      I can guarantee you that these ads do nothing but make teen mother's ashamed, even ones like myself who are at the brink of graduating from college. I have spent my entire young adulthood trying to prove myself to society because of one little decision that I made at the age of seventeen.

      My son came in to my life sooner than expected. But he is loved, cherished, and taken care of just as much as if I had been 22.

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    4. "Anonymous", what does it matter if somebody who needs it is a Medicaid, EBT, or WIC recipient? You strike me as a self-righteous and pompous individual who is oblivious to the world outside of their own circle...Somebody who has never had to want or struggle for what they want. Who are YOU to judge other based on what you perceive as right??? You and everybody else who is not in the top 2% is just one step away from needing government aid. The fact that your name is "anonymous" does not even surprise me because nobody who is confident in their own identity would voice such ignorant thoughts. I wish the best for you in life. Just remember that the only way to go from the top is down and I hope that somebody has mercy on you when that day comes.

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    5. Anonymous. I will let you know that a male helped me make my child why are you only attacking me? Also I do not think society owes me anything I KNOW that it deserves to give me the same chance of success as other women who may or may not have children have. Did you know that schools have been unconstitutionally kicking mother OUT of school. SCHOOL! The pathway to success and they are kicking them out.
      Also I would like to direct to the post were I was DENIED food stamps even though I was working, going to school, and "doing all the right things."

      You are the embodiment of what stereotypes do to society. They HURT not help bring society up. And if you look up the distribution of your tax payer dollars-which are the same as mine- you will find that MOST of it goes to senior citizens not little ole me.

      I do thank you for your comment, checking out the blog, and reading.

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  7. Sorry, don't buy the need more Sex Ed theory. I may be a generation older, but even back then we females knew how babies were made.
    You play - be prepared to pay.

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    1. Then what's the point of the ads?

      The ads are the result of a study that showed that teens don't know the consequences of sex. While the government may have good intentions, the ads shames teen parents and their children, which will not help. Whereas comprehensive sex education is likely to reduce teen pregnancies.


      I agree that we have to fight against teen pregnancies, but we do not need to fight against teen mothers.

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    2. Anonymous- what you are describing is anatomy/biology not sex ed.

      Thank you Dr. Lahiri you are very right.

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  8. All you arrogant fags that think its ok to put all the blame on teen moms are stupid. A "sex-ed" class that tells me what a vagina and a penis looks like isnt of much benefit to me. Get real sex ed classes and then blame me if im still making the wrong decisions at the wrong time.

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    1. Clearly you did not have a proper sex-ed course or even know what one consists of. What you just described is anatomy. Sex-ed curriculum consists of anatomy, physiology, and preventative education. Yes, sex-ed will tell you what a vagina and penis looks like. However, we should all know that by now. Education on how to prevent STD's, unwanted pregnancy, AND making healthy choices is what sex-ed is composed of!

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    2. Brittany I think you directed that comment at the wrong person. Lol.
      Anonymous you are SO RIGHT! Right on point!

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    3. You're right...There are too many "anonymous's" to keep track LOL

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  9. I think its hilarious how teen moms are being blasted on because they recieve government help like wic, foodstamps, etc. Yet the "rich" "classy" people who recieve the same help dont get the same treatment. Some of these same people do not even know the meaning of being responsible good parents and they dont recognize that most teen parents are. Hows that for all you anonymous ignorant people who can talk shit but cant show your face or name.

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    1. Perlita,

      I agree with you. Additionally, lets talk about the recipients of public assistance that work. When did it becomes so frowned upon to receive public assistance from YOUR taxes? People taxes out of their hard-earned money have every right to receive tax-funded assistance? This is a sad world we live in...

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  10. I have met both Gloria and her child, they are both lovely. Gloria is a strong, determined, ambitious young woman, who is an excellent parent. I met her because she does tremendous charity work and reaches out to help other Teen Moms. As a teen Mom who is now in my forties, I truly admire her, she is an example of success in the face of adversity.

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    1. Thank you Former Fat Chick! We love you!

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  11. If you were raped, sorry that shouldn't have happened...BUT if you were not, no ones fault but your own for spreading open your legs and letting a man/boy in between them. I knew where babies came from before sex ed before my mother even taught me the birds and the bees ... It doesn't take a rocket scientist. Those saying "Sex ed only teaches you what the genitals look like" need to go back to class...Sex ed teaches much more than that...Teaches you the REPRODUCTION SYSTEM and omfg...WHAT is making babies? REPRODUCTION. Honey you learn that from Grease 2. Come on now. Don't go crying and making excuses because you ditched school, didn't listen to your parents or were just that damn stupid to know what happens. You got your period...DID you not wonder why? Really? I do blame teen moms if it was their choice to spread their legs and try to blame it on everyone else but themselves. Libraries are free to go into and check out books, your moms/dads, sisters, aunts, friends...You have unlimited resources about you, OMFG you have the internet too... and you're telling me you were to F***ing stupid to look up what happens if you were to have sex? Honey get real...You're a teen who spread her legs...your boyfriend? He will leave you (HELL husband leave ya too for that reason!) You think you're gonna continue in school? Not really! Most teen moms do NOT stay in school that's statistics! I didn't finish high school, i got my GED do i push my oldest son now? Yep! cause i don't want him to be that last statistic of i didn't finish high school so he wont.... Do they cost thousands? OH yeah! Those ADS are telling you that having a baby DOES affect everyone (you, your family, your relationships - you're a mom no more partying and being a hoe no more...Unless you think its cool to abandon your child to party, school, work- yeah you have a kid now you must work MOST health services that give Food stamps/wic/etc require you to work! Washington State does and so does North Dakota...) You are now required to feed, clothe, bathe, care for, provide for another human being THAT'S what those ads are for...To tell you its not all linen and lace, a piece of cake that nothing changes when you have a kid....It does change...Sure Abstinence is the BEST form of birth control and preventing STD's...Does it work yes.... My best friends waited til they were married to have sex... They were devoted Christians and Catholics..Me i didn't wait BUT i was smart.. it was called OMFG READY?!? BIRTH CONTROL... You know that stuff that helps prevent pregnancy! Birth Control + Condoms = WOW next to PERFECT on keeping pregnancies + STD's away. YOU had resources and yet you blame it all on "older generations" or your parents? YOU spread your legs it is no longer your parents fault once you chose that path... You + your little partner = fault. No one else. take the blame for YOUR actions and stop blaming EVERYONE else because "you didn't know" :D AND those 1-800- numbers...will prevent teen pregnancies?!? No...You and all teens keeping their legs closed will prevent that. You do not need your hand held to be told not to do something. IF you say no...THEN say no just cause he starts to play with your nether regions doesn't mean to roll over and change your mind. It means being an adult and making a choice. You say no, you say no and leave if it continues. You don't give in, OR if you do be mature enough to protect your self. Condoms in every dang store and if you wanna make sure you talk to your mom to get on birth control..I'm pretty sure she'd say yes vs. you getting knocked up as a teen.

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    1. Teens are not adults. You are confusing sex ed with anatomy and biology. Everything that you stated above-that is valid in terms of the resources available- is NOT taught in abstinence only sex education. I invite you to look over the ab only education curriculum it has little to absolutely NO mention of ways to avoid pregnancy.
      Thank you for your comment.

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    2. I agree 100% Anonymous. I'm gonna go out on a limb and suggest that NYC social workers, counselors, and the entire industry that caters to teens who get pregnant are NOT happy with these ads cuz their bread & butter may disappear.

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  12. "All teens think teenage pregnancy will not happen to them. Every. Single. One." - Exactly! I became pregnant at 17 years old and never in my wildest dreams did I envision myself as a teenage parent.

    Teens have sex. They will continue to have sex. They do not think they will become teen parents as a result of that! Point blank.

    NYCHRA - Try again, honey.

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    1. YES! And it's not because they are "dumb" that they think that way it's because they are teens and teens think they are untouchable!

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    2. No, they ARE DUMB! I was a teen, in fact, I was a Black Nerd who went to catholic high school. Everybody knew what was up. The girls in my school KNEW who the idiotic psychopaths were in the nearby public high schools. The ones that chose to hook up with the psychopaths knew exactly what they were getting into. Gloria Malone, you are an apologist for a culture of nihilism. Our Black and Latino culture does not need this!

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  13. Crazy how much negativity is on here. As if most, if not all of them, have engaged in per-marital sex. Give me a break people.

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    1. It really is. But I think the positivity shines through brighter. :)

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  14. You know this ad I had saw was right infront of my middle school I used to go to , and I just stopped walking and looked right at the ad and felt so hurt. I understand that not all teen parents might not be perfect, however at the end of the day a mother or a father stands by their child as their pride and joy. I had my son a month before turning 18, and I knew as a mother that my life was going to change, but it was all worth it. I now go to a private college, I live in Park Slope along with these white picket fence parents, and have a high paying job. You know to be honest I see alot of older parents in Park Slope that I feel sorry for because they don't even know how to take care of their kid , their nannies do ! This ad is BS, I am very offended ! Not everyone is a drop out teen mom or live like the girls on 16 and pregnant and I hate that these ads are trying to put the people who work their ass off look horrible. I come from a family where my dad went to Harvard and my mom went to Welsley and I'm going to make it just like them. Having my son who knows who his father is and who will go to high school because if I could make it he can!

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    1. The fact that BOTH your parents finished university, IVY LEAGUE university, says more about why you are now living in Park Slope brooklyn in an upper income bracket. You want to compare yourself to the average LOCAL teenager of color, who does NOT have access to the mentors, resources, and role models YOU DEFINITELY HAD? Unbelievable. You could afford to MESS UP like you did, your dad went to HARVARD! This liberal relativist (it's all good, it will all work out, we're all the same) viewpoint is simply astonishing to me, as a person of color, whose parent enforced a code of value and moral ethics and reality that 1) this society is unfair (racism, classism) 2) you better make sure your act is together because you have NO back up or safety net, no trust fund, no nothing, so don't mess up 3) work hard and take responsibility for your actions. Defer gratification. DON'T get pregnant or get someone pregnant until you are an economically independent ADULT. Hint: If you still in high school, YOU AIN'T READY!

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    2. We have to stop comparing health and economic disparities to race. There are correlations BUT not causation. A local teenager of color is not automatically deprived of access to mentors, resources, and role models. This society need to get out of this terrible habit of classifying SES by a person's race. If you are low-income or impoverished, it does not matter WHAT color you are. The same goes for a person who is wealthy.

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  15. You took responsibility for YOUR actions, good. You don't deserve a medal for that. Its what good people do.

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    1. She's not asking for a medal, she's making the valid point that slapping a scarlet "P" on teens who are pregnant is counter-productive, lazy, and short-sighted.

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    2. Thank you Anonymous you nailed it. :)

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  16. I'd love to see this as a Change.org petition. http://www.change.org/start-a-petition Lets get other people behind it, and get things to change. I could start it, but you practically already have the petition written up :) And you live in NY, and lived through the scenario necessary to explain your position properly... anyways, good luck! I'll sign. :)

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  17. Oh, I suppose I was referring more to this article: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/16/opinion/i-was-a-teenage-mother.html?smid=fb-share&_r=0 by saying you already practically have a petition written up. Couldn't find a place to comment there so I came to your blog, and at a glance this seemed like the same article :) My bad.

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  18. You go, girl! Congratulations for standing up to American Puritanism and foolish politicians and silly stereotypes.

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    1. Thank you :) I'm just one of many though.

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  19. I am not a teen mom, but a mom and a retired teacher who spent decades working with teens, some of whom were moms.
    Congratulations on the NYT opinion piece

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    1. Thank you @ellie for your work with teens and for your comment :)

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  20. OK please please be honest - what social programs have you been using since giving birth at 15 - food stamps, section 8, and child daycare support.

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    1. What a nasty response, especially since most welfare in this country goes to corporations and agriculture. But I will say that yes, when I was a teen mom many many years ago, I received AFDC (which no longer exists), food stamps, section 8 and daycare - and don't forget medicaid - for 3 years while I went to college. In my fourth year of college I was hired as a research and teaching assistant and didn't need the help any more. BTW, what those programs gave us was project housing with roaches and mice, food that ran out 4 days before the end of the month, and daycare at a woman's apartment who took in 15 kids at a time. But it also gave me time, and in the end I had a college degree, found work, later went to law school and became a lawyer while working and raising the kids. By now, I've probably paid more in taxes than you've earned in your mean-sprited, miserable life. Add in what my now grown and well-educated, well-paid sons earn, and I'm sure it's true.

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    2. Who cares? The point is YOU MESSED UP when you got pregnant! OWN THAT! We need to create a CULTURE in which teenagers are ENCOURAGED to DEFER GRATIFICATION pursue education and greater life goals before succumbing to base desires and getting pregnant. The fact that you eventually climbed out of the hole you put yourself in (single mother, raising a child in NYCHA) does not negate the fact that you fell into that hole. I would NOT encourage other youth to follow your path. Finish High School, go to college, study abroad, travel, learn a foreign language, etc. In other words, get out of and avoid the drama of the ghetto.

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    3. No can't do that...we have to be so PC about everything these days that God forbid we ask anyone to sacrifice, actually save up an emergency fund and TAKE RESPONSIBILITY. "Well I signed the mortgage papers - ya mean I am responsible for that?" YES - you are responsible to READ THE FINE PRINT. Negative things happen in life and you should be prepared for it when it happens. SHAME WORKS!

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    4. The problem that is being created is that no one takes responsibility and since no one is taking ownership all we have are victims now. There will be a lack of any ideas or problem solving since everyone now runs to social services which provides the worst way to solve any problem. Oh well, I guess the cycle continues of 51 year old great grandmothers, 34 year old grandmothers and 17 yr old moms. And Dad? Dad? U my baby daddy?

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  21. Kudos, Gloria!!! I too was a teenage mom who was told by everybody that I would amount to nothing. My own mom who refused to come to my high school graduation told me I would be pushing a broom for the rest of my life. I was sent away from my home because my mom didn't want me around her "normal" children. To cut this rather long story short, I am now a lawyer, a college professor, a business owner and the proud grandmother of three great grandsons!! This was one of the greatest perks of being a teen mom, I am able to fully enjoy watching them grow and am able to actively participate with them, in addition to also be mistaken for being their mom.

    One of my goals has always been to start a non-profit to support teen moms in all aspects of their lives. And, not only the moms but also the fathers. perhaps now is the time.

    Congratulations on your New York Times article!

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    1. Interesting, all of you saying that shame doesn't work also talk about how hard you had to work after you got pregnant as a teenager to be something because everyone told you you wouldn't amount to anything, and all these people were against you, so you worked extra hard. So did you ever think that part of the reason it was so important to do these things was because you wanted to prove them wrong? Why did you want to do that, prove them wrong, because you didn't want them to think less of you? Didn't want to be a statistic? So, in fact, shame DOES work, and you just said so yourself. They were shaming you for getting pregnant so you worked harder.

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    2. Shame?!?!? Shame was my mother's issue not mine. I choose to have the child. I am a strong willed, intelligent woman. I didn't all of a sudden become this way. I was strong willed and intelligent when I had my child. I was an honor student raised in a middle class neighborhood on Long Island. Regardless of whether or not I was a teenage mother, there was and still is something in me that continues to drive me to accomplish the goals I set for myself. Achieving those goals while being a single mom was just a hurdle I had to go over to reach those goals. Much like the other hurdles life throws you and you have to get over. You don't know me so for you to express your opinion that I was shamed into reaching my goals is irresponsible, "John Smith". You must also understand that what somebody else thinks of me has nothing to do with me, that's their issue.

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  22. Gloria, what a great Op-Ed article in the NYTimes. I've been a high school teacher for 20 years and have seen my share of pregnant students. I've seen those who've been like you and were determined to get an education for the sake of raising a healthy, happy child, and then there are those who will unfortunately remain uneducated. However, being a teacher has taught me that being a pregnant teen is NOT always a sentence of poverty. You are correct that schools MUST explicitly teach students how to prevent pregnancy because people really do underestimate the number of parents who teach their children nothing about sex, and we need to stop thinking that just because one can have sex that they are actually mature enough to make appropriate decisions about sex. Teens are still kids.

    And I also have to note that I find it quite funny that all of your negative comments come from people who are too cowardly to identify themselves.

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  23. I read the New York Times piece a bit ago, Gloria, and then found your blog. I have spent the last several minutes reading all the comments and am a) appalled at the ignorant comments and b) inspired by the intelligent, informed proactive comments. I work for the local community college Foundation, where we distribute scholarships based upon the promise demonstrated by the applicant and their significant financial need . . . I have never met a recipient who was a single Mom who was other than inspiring. Those who speak darkness may not see light, because they have accepted darkness as light. To the many of you reading this who know otherwise, here is to the following truth: "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

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  24. I agree with you about comprehensive sex education.
    I hope everyone knows there are single
    Mothers of ALL ages out there.

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  25. Great piece in NYT today, Gloria. Just amazing how government does less and less for people and then when they do it's something like those degrading and mean spirited posters which blame people like you. So much wasted money. Let's spend it dealing with the real problems people face. Thanks for your courage, hard work and responsibility.

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  26. There is a study that says students who attend private colleges (as opposed to local community colleges) have a higher rate of graduating within 4 years, NOT because they are better students, but because of PEER PRESSURE from a greater campus community to DO WELL and graduate on time. The PEER PRESSURE to do study abroad, the PEER PRESSURE to finish assignments and value ACADEMICS over making money. I'm sorry, but the same goes for teenage years. You may be angered by this "politically-incorrect" viewpoint, but if SHAME AND PEER PRESSURE is what it takes to prevent you from having unprotected sex before you are even on a college campus, if SHAME AND PEER PRESSURE is what it takes to keep on the straight path to "keep your eyes on the prize" and focus on learning, getting to grad school, studying abroad, avoiding a crowd that thinks its normal to get pregnant before your life even begins, DEFERRING GRATIFICATION, then so be it. Those of us who belong to conservative, orthodox Jewish, muslim, and christian communities know this. I am happy those ads are out there. Yes, YOU messed up BIG TIME if you got pregnant before you graduated from high school, let alone college. You did NOT have your act together. Everything worked out for you in the end, fine. Our larger should be working to PREVENT this outcome, and not taking the relativist view that "its okay." BTW, I am a person of color whose parents were immigrants. My parents somewhat sheltered my sister and I from the larger community of kids to make sure we maintained our values and ethics. Result: I have a law degree and two masters, my sister has a masters and is a teacher. How? We were part of a peer group of teens who only thought of succeeding academically and getting out of the ghetto and not succumbing to a culture of sex and violence.

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    1. Your reply is impressive but misses the point. Yes, to have a successful life and a healthy family you need to have will power and strong values, but teenagers who get pregnant don't necessarily lack those assets. Gloria survived based on those assets. We can't blame people in a particular circumstance and assume the worst about them just because of that circumstance. Sometimes, good people find themselves in a difficult place and they need a society not to judge them but to provide common sense assistance. It wouldn't be so hard but the far right has demonized social programs as wasteful. The point is, the money spent on this ad campaign of blame could have been allocated toward common sense help for young people.

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    2. There is a reason why recently arriving immigrants from conservative countries form enclaves. You want to blame the "right" for demonizing social programs, yet you and others on this blog refuse to address the big polka dotted elephant in the room, WHY IS A 16 YEAR OLD HAVING UNPROTECTED SEX? WHEN do they even find the TIME? They should be studying to pass regents and state exams, and get into college! They should be going to after school math academies (formal and informal) or forming study groups to get out of the ghetto. These Ads put a STIGMA on teens getting pregnant. GOOD!!! HELLO, THAT THE WAY IT SHOULD BE! I am astonished at the unwillingness of the "left" to challenge the culture of nihilism that is destroying our Black and Latino communities. It is a culture that scares to death recent immigrants (Korea,Nigeria,China,Bosnia,Morocco,Pakistan) and makes them warn their children to STAY AWAY from THOSE KIDS. These immigrants are not part of the "far right", they are using their common sense.

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    3. I may have missed this but what does you being a person of color and emigrating to this country have to do with anything? It boils down to individuals and lifestyle choices. Additionally, people who attend private colleges/universities as opposed to state institution are not likely to receive the same aid as with a state institution. Anybody who is paying a lot of money for school will want to graduate as close to on time as possible. I applaud you and your sister's accomplishments. However, everybody is different and that does not give you a reason to turn up your nose at others.

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  27. I agree with your NYT piece. And congrats on all your hard work - wow. The only thing I would add is that when girls feel empowered and secure and loved and successful, they are much less likely to become teen mothers. The city should put its efforts behind programs that target girls so that they have the courage to only have safe sex (if they plan on having sex), to say no, (if that's what they want), to not have the need to have a baby to love (when they are so young) AND to truly be able to make a choice about having an abortion (if that's what they want.) AND then, if they still have a baby, they should get support in school and from the gov. to continue their education. These shaming posters do nothing. My own young teen daughter saw them and while she felt really sad about seeing the toddlers crying and miserable, she did not really connect it to having safe sex. And she did think it make teen mothers out to be bad people. Anyway, my very best to you.

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  28. Excellent, excellent article. I was a teenaged mother in the '80s, eventually raising 3 sons born when I was between 17 and 23. No doubt I worked as hard as a person can, but I got into college without finishing high school and eventually went to law school and became a lawyer. The boys' father and I did not stay together, he did not pay child support, and there were many times we were so poor that I was in despair - but none of that made me a bad parent. They are now grown, all with excellent jobs and partners, two have children of their own, two have college degrees, one has an advanced degree. All know how to work hard because they saw me do it, all love their families with all their hearts because I showed them how. I hate this assault on teenaged parents. It's not that I think it's a great choice - access to shame-free birth control is better - but it is not doomed to failure, and you are not automatically a failure if it happens to you. Thanks for that badly needed article.

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  29. I was a teen mother in 1961. My child is a parent to two children, 19 and 9. That means she was 32 and 42 when they were born. In my opinion her complete unwillingness to consider how her actions affect them and those who love them, is quite a good reason for the posters you resent. There is nothing sadder than watching children raised by thoughtless people; age does not guarantee better parents.

    In that light, I see the posters as one more thing for anyone to consider about bearing a child. If the small print on the posters refers to teen agers, then I agree that should be removed. NYC would better mount an ad campaign toward why children need parents are emotionally prepared to be responsible to them.

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  30. There's government help for all kinds of parents in need. It's a way for the government to make smaller investments in help early so that larger investments don't have to be made later. My spouse and I had full time jobs, health insurance, 401ks and all that when our son was born when we were in our 30s. But he was born premature. Do you know there is government aid for families with preemies to help with occupational therapy and child development and to help subsidize the cost of having to travel to the hospital 4-6 times a day to breastfeed while the baby is in the NICU? Why are your tax dollars paying for this? So that you don't have to pay ten times as much later. It's called early intervention, to address the early developmental needs of kids who are deemed at risk for developmental problems. If these things are addressed too late, it costs the government MORE. So... which is better? Helping teen moms early on so that they can graduate and become independent OR saying "shame on you! fend for yourself!" and then having to help them out later on when they have no HS diploma, no employment opportunities and then their kids grow up to need welfare and the cycle continues. Ok, fine, she's ashamed she got pregnant. But continuing to shame her and her child is not effective. Giving people temporary help so they can help themselves should be the goal of government programs. And all you holier than thou religion spouting people are hypocrites. Teach a man to fish, remember? Government programs for teen parents can teach a teen parents to be able to take care for themselves and their child. If anything, shaming should be put on the guys who decide to jump shop and not take responsibility.

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  31. [[The truth is older generations are failing to meet the needs of my generation and our blaming my generation in the process. ]]

    An older generation didn't fail "your generation," YOUR PARENTS failed YOU. Either your self-esteem was so low that a guy could talk you into bed or they didn't adequately warn you about the dangers of unprotected sex. Whatever. The truth is if you don't do a better job than your parents you'll be a grandmother by age 33.

    Good luck.

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  32. I read the NYT piece and this blog post attacking the NY teen pregnancy ads but respectfully, I feel there's something missing that either the author has chosen not to share, or she has and I'm just not aware of it.

    The author strongly advocates very specific remedies for reducing teen pregnancy, namely: the teaching of "youth comprehensive sex ed" versus "abstinence-only sex until marriage education;" and making birth control more accessible to youth.

    Does the author attribute her own teen pregnancy to NOT being taught "comprehensive sex ed" and/or a LACK of access to birth control? Does the author contend that she got pregnant as a teen because she was provided with "abstinence-only sex until marriage education"? If not, then how are we supposed to be persuaded by these arguments/remedies? There's nothing unique or courageous about making the usual demands for social problems to be addressed with increases in EDUCATION!/ACCESS!/PROGRAMS! (virtually always at taxpayer expense) if the advocate can't affirmatively say that her predicament was caused by a lack of education and access.

    If the author has addressed this elsewhere, then I apologize and I would be very interested in reading about it.

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  33. Great job on the NYT article. Thanks for sticking up for teen moms. You are not always going to be a teen but you will always be a mom.
    I wish someone could follow the money on this campaign. I bet adoption agencies are behind it. There is a shortage of womb wet infants and they will do just about anything to beef up the supply. This is a pretty slick way of coercing a group of potential mothers. They are saying if you keep your child you are abusive. Bull. Children belong with their mothers.
    Great job raising your daughter. She never has to go through the pain of being abandonded. That is much more important than the pony!

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  34. Hi, Gloria,

    Just wanted to tell you that I just read your op-ed in the New York Times and wow, you can write! Your determination and perseverance are even more impressive. You're a role model for other young people and for your daughter. Keep up the good work.

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  35. Gloria, that was a wonderfully written and thought-provoking piece in the NYT today. By working so hard, you have already made yourself a model for others, including your son. I wish you all the very best and commend you for your bravery. Like the nurse said, keep it up!
    I can understand why the ads are upsetting not only to you but to your son. Were he to look up and put the pieces together he might say, "Hey, that's me!" And there's a great moment to teach him that what path society predicts for you and what path you ultimately choose are two very, very different things, not only for him but all of us. And you must admit that life is much harder for you than if you'd never been a mother. But hard is not always a bad thing, as we Americans have been led to believe.
    Like others, I would be very interested in knowing how you got pregnant. I know, old joke. But if you were raised in a family that refused to even consider teen sex, that would have thrown a fit if they'd found condoms/pills, if you did not have a local Planned Parenthood nearby (the are fewer and fewer!), these would help bolster your arguments about expanding those services.
    Did you feel your sex education was inadequate? Did you feel that, perhaps, the father was not more encouraged to take responsibility too? Where, exactly, did the current system fail you?
    Please at some point address these issues. Because in so doing you might hit upon something that could help others.
    Thank you.

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    1. The ads are not attacking single moms, for goodness sakes. They are warning teens that having a baby when there is no daddy around for support is not a day at the beach.

      GIRLS - JUST SAY NO TO THESE STUDS. IF YOU SAY YES, ONLY WITH A CONDOM, AND ONLY DURING THAT TIME OF THE MONTH WHEN YOU ARE VERY UNLIKELY TO GET PREGANT UNCASE THE CONDOM "SLIPS OFF."

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  36. Thank you MTA. For every teen mom like this one is getting a college degree, there are 20 teen moms who did not graduate high school, have job, no job prospects, and a mom who is in the same boat as she is. We should be preaching to teen girls high and low, to NOT GET PREGNANT!

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  37. Wow, those ads are so offensive on so many levels I'm practically speechless.

    Mental exercise: picture an ad with a weepy Down Syndrome baby and the caption "Honestly, mom, at your age?"

    Or a thalidomide baby with the caption, "What's a little morning sickness compared to this?"

    Or a baby with medals pinned to its onesie crying "Daddy, I'd rather have you"?

    Why not?

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    1. Love the Down Syndrome and other analogies - very effective!

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    2. Really creative there. My father was killed in Vietnam and I never knew him. I would not be offended by a baby or toddler holding my gold star sign and my father's medals. We do need to think before we start wars on how many kids will lose a parent. The thalidimide signs were there with the deformed babies and they worked to scare my 14 year old mom into dealing with the morning sickness rather than popping a pill. The only smart thing my mom did.

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    3. haha- Oh man. @Anonymous 1- Yeah that's the problem is where do we draw the line and why is it always to easy to go for the low hanging fruit (teen moms) than to really address the social problems around teenage pregnancy?

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    4. Anonymous 3- I want to say that you for your father's service.

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    5. False analogies, every one.

      No one has ever sugarcoated the issues of raising a child with Down's Syndrome, and this is precisely the reason for amniocentesis -- so that a woman knows early enough in the pregnancy of the chances of a Down's Syndrome or other genetic abnormality. She and her partner receive counseling about the issues and problems with continuing with the pregnancy, so that they are making an informed decision. That's what this ad campaign is designed to do -- to provide all of the relevant information about the effects of teen pregnancy.

      Oh, and a woman of any age can give birth to a child with Down's Syndrome. The rate is higher among older women -- older women who are generally financially secure and mature enough to deal with the financial and emotional implications.

      No woman has been prescribed thalidomide since 1962, when the dangers were discovered. Once the dangers were known, the drug was taken off the market. Women and the doctors made the right choice. Oh, and there was quite a campaign against it at the time that included photographs.

      Why not the last one? Why not argue against brutal and senseless wars because of their effect on children?

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  38. Gloria, I read your op-ed in the New York Times today, and I thought it was excellent. You are obviously destined for great things. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this issue.

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    1. Thank you! I really appreciate you reading and commenting :)

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  39. Your NY Times op-ed was the best and most important critique yet of the campaign. A nice juxtoposition to Richard Reeves's Shame is not a Four Letter Word http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/16/opinion/a-case-for-shaming-teenage-pregnancy.html?hp

    Thank you for writing your piece - your daughter is fortunate to have you for a mother! (I work in teen pregnancy prevention for a public health agency (which had nothing to do with the NY campaign), so I must sign anonymously)

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    1. No problem. Thank you very much for reading and taking the time out to comment I really appreciate it. Also thank you for working on teenage pregnancy prevention the work is very much needed. If you ever need any help message me :)

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  40. I just read your New York Times op-ed piece and am so inspired. You should be so proud of yourself. What a wonderful role model you are for your daughter. You are a brilliant writer and a great citizen. You are going to do great things in your life.

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    1. Ann Procter-Thank you so much for reading, commenting, and your kind words. I hope that I am being the best mother to my daughter that's my number one goal.
      Again thank you I really appreciate it.

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  41. Just want to say I'm so proud of you... I hadn't even had sex consensually when I had my daughter at 14 and I chose open adoption. You are so brave and responsible to be doing this work: it's so needed!!!

    Most "adults" operate on misinformation and scare tactics to "educate" their children about sex and relationships. Imagine if billboards read:

    "For females, having discussed contraception before sex was also associated with increased odds of having ever used and consistently used contraception in later relationships." DON'T BE AFRAID TO TALK TO YOUR KIDS ABOUT SEX

    I wish you all the best...

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    1. Wow. I am sorry to hear about your earlier life experiences and I hope you have found peace after all of that. I agree with you parents need to educate themselves better to help their children.

      Thank you for reading and your comment. All my best :)

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  42. Hi there, just another new reader commending you for the NYT opinion piece you authored. I was kind of on the fence about NYC's initiative and reading your piece and then exploring your blog led me to the conclusion that you're view is the correct one. You're quite an inspiring figure and I wish you and your daughter nothing but the best.

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    1. Thank you very much for reading and your comment. I am just one of many that are striving to do the best than can. :)

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  43. And, ugh, I am so put off by all of the negative comments! Nobody has bothered to familiarize themselves with your background and your personal accomplishments up to this point. The worst part of all of this is that people ignore that there's always another person involved--the man! The women who shoulder all of the responsibility DO deserve praise.

    Anyway, you seem like a strong person. Keep your chin up and you'll go far.

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    1. Thank you very much! I love your comment. I guess those types of comments can be viewed as a personification of why these ads are not a good idea. They perpetuate judgment. Thank you for your kind words :)

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  44. Read through your blog - I will admit you have courage to publish your story and views, but the problem is that with the social welfare system in place you have now 5 generations that have been doing this and the problem has become worse. For blacks births to unwed mothers are over 70%. Let me say that stat again - 70%. MLK would be rolling in his grave if he knew what has transpired. The current system is widely known as families and friends provide guidance and help in the best ways to get into the program that provides this dependence on WIC, Section 8, TANF, Food Stamps, dependent child care, etc. Sorry but this is a drain on our economy and I bet (if it ever happens) once these programs get cut and phased out you will see behavior change, but until that happens the gravy train/govt trough of benefits will continue.

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    1. Thank you. There are several problems present in society not just public assistance.

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    2. If we focused on lowering teen births through proven methods such as sex education and providing birth control, instead of spending money on shame campaigns we would lower the cost to tax payer's by a tremendous amount. Cutting these government programs isn't the answer, educating people is.

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  45. Your baby daddy knew how the system works from the get go when he decided not to sign the birth certificate so he is one that knows how to not only manipulate you but the system as well. If you are not paying into any type of system such as Social Security or Medicare you are just taking and not being a productive member of society.

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  46. You are all invited to come on up to my 'hood (East Harlem NYC) and please observe how these 16-19 yr old moms speak to their little babies. You would think they are speaking to their friends when you hear, "Shut the f**k up or I will smack your head!" There is a problem when you have babies having babies.

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    1. It's not just teenage parents that speak to their children poorly. Parents of all ages are victims of this.
      Thank you for commenting.

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  47. First let me say that you have my respect for completing school as a teen mom and then for continuing your education as well, because I could not imagine having a baby anywhere near my teens. Hell I'm 28 and I still can't imagine having one right now. Having sex education in schools and providing birth control/condoms are my number one vote for attacking this epidemic of teen pregnancy. In conjunction with that I believe the parents need to take more responsibility for teaching their children about sex (abstinence and protection). However, I am on the fence about ads like this because on one hand I guess you could find it offensive, but they are telling the truth about how hard it is to be a teen parent.Depending on the child this tactic does work. I am the type of person who has read up on everything before I have done it (this includes sex), and it was ads like this and talks from my mom that lead me to keep my virginity until I was 18. As I said before you have an amazing story and drive for success, but not everyone has that or an adequate support system to help them keep climbing higher.Hopefully your story inspires girls that are mothers to keep striving for excellence, and those who are not pregnant to stay that way. However, we do need to let the youth know it is not cute or easy to become a teen mom and that is not what their aspirations should be focused on. Thank You for your story.

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    1. Thank you for reading and your comment. I agree we need to make sex ed and access to birth control for youth. AND i REALLY appreciate that fact that you mentioned the parents involvement in these important conversations with their children. I also agree that speaking the realities of young pregnancy are important but I think there are better more effective ways than these posters that cost almost half a million to make.

      The one thing I will say is that the stats apply to all people in poverty not just teenage parents.

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  48. Here's some advice from a much older adult raised by a teenage mom who was every bit as selfish and arrogant as you come across in your blog. First off ditch the "I am exceptional" attitude. You're not. You are a mom who is supposed to do the very best you can for their child. This would make you average, normal. Second, I am so concerned because of you post when you said you felt like a normal young adult without a kid and it felt good. You cannot ditch the mom thing, that is with you for life. You chose to get pregnant and have and keep the child. Don't blame her for your choices and don't EVER let her hear you wish you could be a "normal young adult without a child" or that you even like that feeling. You will get your "young adult freedom" when your daughter is grown and on her own. I only hope and pray you ate smart enough to not be dating anyone right now.

    I raised myself and my mom from the time I was 6 until I was 15. Mom has never gotten over her stolen young adult years. From my view, she had lived, hers, mine, and several other peoples. She was always at parties, protests, communions, love-ins where I had the pleasure of being a fashion accessory. I also had the great joy in being evidence in two capital felonies. My father was black, mom 14 and white and it was consenting and very willing sex on my mom's part. Oh yeah, she finished high school with good grades, went to business college and graduated with honors but never grew up. We were always in public housing or in the poorest part of town. It was alway look at me and how exceptional I am raising a kid by myself. Her boyfriends abused me physically and sexually. We always struggled. I started working as a babysitter at 10 and a retail store at 12. Yes, I lied about how old I was, I needed to support us. What I did was not exceptional, it was survival and there were others doing the same thing.

    Protect your daughter and realise you are doing what is expected of mothers and that is not exceptional.

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    1. I don not think I am any kind of exception. Quite the opposite really.

      Thank you for your concern, reading, and comment.

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  49. I read your piece in the NYTimes. You are one in a thousand thousand -- willing to work, sacrifice, and put in the effort for your daughter. But you are truly an exception (which I admire you for). Most teenagers just do not have the maturity and wisdom or like your did, especially the maturity, to handle their own emotions and crises, let alone that of another demanding and needy tiny human being who cries and is unreasonable all the time. It's a scientific fact that teenage brains are not fully developed until the mid-20s, leading to impulsive decisions and risky behavior. While I do see what you are saying not to "blame and shame" teen parents, I do not think these ads go overboard. It would have given me pause when I found myself accidentally pregnant when I was 15. I aborted and it was the best decision I could have possibly made for myself and the unborn child, especially now that I have two children I adore at 27 and understand all about parenting. I was a drug addict in my teens and wildly unstable, depressed and compulsive and suicidal. What kind of mother would I be to bring a child into this world? I did not have the maturity or foresight or wisdom like you did to become suddenly motivated by a new human being. I was too self-centered.

    As I got older and wiser I straightened my problems out -- graduated from a top U.S. university, run my own company now, and happily married with children who I will have financial resources and time to nurture and give the best of myself. If I had had the child with my 19-year old ex-boyfriend, I shudder to think what would have happened. All those thoughts in those ads occurred to me when I found myself pregnant at 15. I could not quit school and I had no money. Now I understand that your message may not be pro-life, but just the way resources are presented -- but personally, I think these ads are ok.

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  50. Read your piece in the NYTimes, congratulations! Very well said. The posters are tasteless. How should these children feel reading them? Sure shame may work, as some comments here suggest, but we don't won't a society of shame, we want an educated society.

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    1. Thank you E. Marten for reading and commenting. I agree we need to be pushing education more than shame.

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  51. I agree that anyone, regardless of age, can make a poor decision that results in an unexpected outcome. I also agree that as a society we should help those in need to give a person a "hand up.". However, what does bother me is the young girls who continue to repeat the behavior. I work at a hospital and we see young girls coming in to labor and delivery who are In labor with their second or third children, and these girls are not even out of their teens yet. Most of these girls are I'll-prepared to parent one child let alone several, but fail to see that their choices are statistically putting their children at risk. At what point does society say ENOUGH we're not helping you anymore? It's hard because the children shouldn't suffer because of the lack of responsibility of the parent.

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  52. How is telling the truth "shaming?" Either this ad campaign is presenting the truth or it is not.

    The fact that you do not care for this truth does not change that reality.

    When did New York City public schools stop providing comprehensive sex education and providing free condoms?

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