Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Take Action Against the Controversial anti-Teenage Pregnancy Campaign

A few days after the launch of the Think being a teenage parent wont cost you? campaign was released by NYCHRA and Mayor Bloomberg's office I met with a group of powerful and moving advocates, activist, and social justice leaders. We discussed how we felt about the campaign and what we could do against it.

After roughly two hours of discussion and brain storming we created the No Stigma No Shame! counter campaign. Below is the sign on letter we drafted and will be sending to NYC offices behind and responsible for these horrible ads.
Please read the letter and consider signing on. Your voice will be heard along with several other people who disagree with methods used in these ads. Your voice will be heard along side several national and international organizations that all agree that these ads are not the best way to reduce teenage pregnancy rates.

The following has been imported from Nicole Clark Consulting.com 

March 12, 2013
Dear Community,
The New York Coalition for Reproductive Justice (NYC4RJ) condemns the New York City Human Resource Administration’s (HRA) use of images and messaging that attacks young people and their families. This campaign, “Think Being a Teen Parent Won’t Cost You?” shames teen parents, especially teen parents of color, and uses images of their children to blame them for conditions that are society’s responsibility to address.
The New York Coalition for Reproductive Justice is a coalition of grassroots activists in New York City, working to advance the human rights of women and girls of color and LGBTQ people of color through our advocacy priority areas ofEducation, Health and Families. 
We fail as a society when we shame young people instead of teaching them what they need to know to make the best decisions about their lives. For those of us who do direct service, education and advocacy around issues of poverty, access to comprehensive sex education, contraception, family planning and addressing health disparities that have historically impacted communities of color, we are acutely aware of the budget cuts to programs and services that could address and reverse these conditions within our communities. The New York Coalition for Reproductive Justice is holding HRA accountable for reinforcing negative stereotypes about the decision-making ability of young people instead of investing in programs and policies that encourage young people to thrive.
In response to this HRA campaign, the New York Coalition for Reproductive Justice asserts, teen parents need support, not shame! We are launching the NO STIGMA! NO SHAME! Campaign with the following demands:
- Public acknowledgement and apology from HRA
- Removal of all HRA campaign posters
- A meeting between the HRA and NYC4RJ leaders
- Creation of a Teen Parent Council within HRA, composed of teen parents and their advocates, to approve any future messaging around teen pregnancy prevention
In order to address teen pregnancy, the HRA and all New York City government programs must offer teen parents support, not stigmatizing messages.  “In August, according to the Department Of Education’s Sex Education website, Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced that beginning in the second semester of the 2011-2012 school year, New York City will require schools to include sexual health education as part of comprehensive health education.”  Teen parents need government officials to provide resources that encourage them to foster resilience instead of shaming them for creating their own families.
The New York City Coalition for Reproductive Justice calls on the HRA to dismantle this reprehensible campaign and address the real problem: lack of support for teen parents and their families.
The New York Coalition for Reproductive Justice
Jasmine Burnett – Founder & Lead Organizer
Nicole Clark, MSW – No Stigma! No Shame! Campaign Leader
Here are some ways to show your support: 
1. Stand with us and sign on to our letter by contacting Jasmine Burnett, founder ofNYC4RJ, at nyc4rj[at]gmail[dot]com. Please listyour name, any academic or professional affiliations, and state. Your information will be added to this letter, and this letter will be sent to Robert Doar, commissioner of HRA’s Department of Social Services, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. 
2. Join us on social media! Follow NYC4RJ on Twitter (and follow our hashtag #NoStigmaNoShame ) and like the NYC4RJ Facebook page to keep up with the latest updates on the No Stigma! No Shame! Campaign.
3. Share the opinion blogs posts from other bloggers about the HRA campaign. Check out these responses from Miriam PerezNatasha ViannaGloria MaloneNicole Clark, and Brittany Braithwaite
4. Share this blog post and the NYC4RJ No Stigma! No Shame! Campaign sign-on letter with others and encourage them contact Jasmine Burnett to sign on with their support.
This sign on letter is just the beginning. We plan to incorporate a campaign that infuses policy advocacy, arts, and education that will make sure that all teens in New York City are able to make the best decisions for their health and lives. Support us in getting the word out and pushing for a teen pregnancy prevention and parenting campaign that DOES NOT shame and blame teen parents.
Please share this information with everyone in your networks. Email, post on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and all or any social media platforms you are on. I am sure we can all agree that we need to combat teenage pregnancy but these methods are not how to do it. The further disrespect young families and do very little to actually educate youth about sex, relationships, respect, and sexual health.