Shame is Not a Four-Letter Word: New York’s Newest Tactic in Efforts to Fight Teenage Pregnancy BY rntrrn222 The article “Shame is not a Four-Letter Word” discusses New York’s newest tactic in efforts to fight teenage pregnancy; shame. The advertisements depict small, crying, children with captions such as “I’m twice as likely not to graduate high school because you had me as a teen”. City officials hope that this shame will encourage teens to practice “good behavior”, giving them a “nudge in the right direction”.
The tatistics the advertisements brandish ring true in studies conducted over the years, but many critics fear of the implications and social repercussions that the advertisements could have. Some argue that the advertisements perpetuate the stigma of teen pregnancy, making it difficult for teen mothers to face society in an already difficult situation. On the other hand, others feel that shame is necessary to make progress on the greater question of teenage pregnancy. They use the example of drunk driving, an irresponsible action that is commonly viewed as shameful, as a omparison.
This social attitude works to deter teens from driving while intoxicated. Those who support the advertisements reason that without a negative social norm attached to teen pregnancy, sex education and contraception will ineffective. Nonetheless, while shame may lower the amount of children born to teen mothers, it is critical that teenage mothers are still provided with support from their communities. The article closes insisting upon the fact that shame is necessary for a society to progress, implying that the author is in support of the advertisements.
My initial reaction to the advertisements was positive. I felt that they would be effective in lowering teen pregnancy rates. However, although the author ended the article on a positive note regarding the new form of social campaigning for change, after considering the other point of view I was conflicted. On the one hand, if the advertisements are successful, more teenagers will be able to complete their schooling careers, and fewer children will be born to parents who are simply not ready to care for them.
However, the ads could add to the stigma and negative social pressure teenage mothers face. When it becomes clear that a girl is pregnant, she is more or less wearing a sign that announces that she has engaged in sexual intercourse. Society already attacks teens for engaging in an action that they were more or less programmed by nature to do, and these ads could potentially add fuel to the fire. Furthermore, the battle that teenage mothers face in raising their children in an extremely Judgmental society is huge.
Increasing the social stigma of teenage pregnancy might make their efforts increasingly harder. The article connects to the theme of pregnancy because it discuses teen pregnancy and how the government and society should react to it, as well as social attitudes that could lessen the occurrence of teen pregnancy. It illustrates the two sides of an extremely complex and controversial issue. Will the advertisements work mother faces? While both arguments are valid, only time will tell what effect they will have on New York society.