Sometimes we have to step out of the box to educate and warn our teens. Sometimes we even have to capture their interest for more than just a few moments to make some impact. All of the mothers and fathers of teens out there know that you can lose your teens' interest in a few moments if you say the wrong thing or if they get bored. Let's face it -- too many teens in the U.S. are getting pregnant every year.
Well, lo and behold, Chicago has launched a billboard campaign featuring teen boys who look several months pregnant in an effort to teach the adolescent boys that teen pregnancy is their responsibility too. Here, have a look and see what you think. I looked at these posters of pregnant teen boys and I have to admit that I found them quite intriguing. Apparently, a similar billboard campaign launched in Milwaukee in 2006 has been associated with a decline in the teen pregnancy rate. Apparently, the billboards of pregnant teen boys must literally and figuratively be hitting home because there are fewer teens getting getting pregnant in that neck of the woods.
In my experience, teens are inclined to take risks because they weigh the positives associated with risky behaviors more heavily than they weight the negative outcomes associated with risky behaviors. In the heat of a hormonally-charged moment they may have difficulty resisting sexual activity. Sorry parents -- I know that the thought and visual picture of your kids having sex is more than disturbing. On the other hand, teens are doing it. You know what I mean. Many of them are having sex lives with little regard for the possibility of getting pregnant.
I see the aftermath of these risky moments more often than I'd like. I have worked with many teen girls who have gotten pregnant and struggled with how to handle this potentially life-changing event. And, many of them are tortured with feelings of guilt, disappointment and embarrassment. They are deeply hurt when their boyfriends suddenly lose interest in them. They are very sad that they have hurt and let down their parents. Teen boys, too, have been in my office with issues of guilt, depression and anxiety after impregnating teen girls. Let's not forget that the boys have feelings too. I can attest to that. Over the years I have seen many teen boys distraught after sex turns into a pregnancy.
If we can reach our teens before they find themselves naked and ready to experiment then we are doing a wonderful thing. We are reminding them of three things: the need for contraception, the responsibility of both the male and female teens and that pregnancy is a very real outcome of unprotected sex. Let's face it. While they are having sex they are thinking of anything but pregnancy.
I say way to go Milwaukee and way to go Chicago. I'll be watching your teen pregnancy statistics. Billboards that are unusual, interesting and in your face will certainly be more effective in reducing teen pregnancy than billboards of scantily clad actresses and models.
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