New controversial ads combat teen pregnancy

Many asking 'how far is too far?'

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - The people behind a New York City advertising campaign to stop teen pregnancy hope that their tough messages are working. Some are wondering if such ads can make a difference in communities closer to home.

The ads, which went up this week in New York City subways and on bus shelters, show teary-eyed toddlers with messages such as "Dad, you'll be paying to support me for the next 20 years" or "Honestly mom, chances are he won't stay with you".

"Wow. These are pretty blunt," said one male teenager from West Palm Beach.

The new ad campaign started by the New York City Human Resources Administration is stunning teens and shocking parents in the Big Apple and also here in south Florida.

"I don't think they are too blunt at all," said Pamela Baldwin, a mother from Royal Palm Beach. Baldwin believes teens need a shocking message just to get their attention. "This could make them take a second look at their own behavior and life consequences."

Baldwin's daughter, Brittany, 15, agrees that the ads cut right to the chase. "It's just very straightforward and actually might get to them," she said.

The campaign, though, is not only receiving praise.

Planned Parenthood of New York City and also many pro-life groups are in rare agreement that the ads too far. In a statement, Planned Parenthood called the messages 'stigmatizing and fear-based'.

Tim O'Connor of the Palm Beach County Health Department says the teen pregnancy prevention program in place is effective as is and likely will not be taking such a drastic stance.

"It looks like it's working," said O'Connor. "Our numbers continue to drop every year."

About 1,200 babies are born in Palm Beach County to women under the age of 19 each year. That number, O'Connor says, is dropping by about one percent each year. He says that movement is on par with similar sized counties and with the state average.

New York City officials say their bold campaign to keep teen pregnancy rates moving in the right direction is working. Over the last decade, health statistics show that teen pregnancies have decreased 27 percent, along with an increase in the use of contraception.

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