An NYC subway ad featuring a crying child with the caption, “I’m twice as likely not to graduate high school because you had me as a teen,” is attempting to reduce and even stop teen pregnancy. While I do believe emotional ads are effective, I think this one is a bit tasteless and trying too hard to shame young girls.

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With March being Women’s Empowerment Month, I expect more thoughfulness from advertisers. This ad does nothing to encourage teen moms to push harder to strive for the prosperous lives they seek for themselves and their children. It also blatantly tells teen moms they’d better go ahead and drop out because the odds are against them. Oh and what about teen fathers? They get a chance to go forth and prosper because the mom is doing all the work?

What these advertisers fail to realize is–people are going to do what they want to do. It’s like those no smoking ads showing the woman speaking by putting a mic up to the open hole in her throats or the lady who lost fingers and toes because of her addiction to tobacco; We could look at those all day, but if the desire is there, we’re going to keep smoking.

Basically, shaming doesn’t work when reform is needed. Specifically with teen moms, the guilt trip is far too harsh. Not all teen moms are stereotypically bad seeds. Some of them simply made a mistake and need support to help them through one of the biggest challenges of their lives.

Let this ad be a lesson for us all, especially during Women’s Empowerment Month. Let’s support one another.

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