A few days ago I praised New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg for launching an ad campaign aimed at curtailing teen pregnancy. Mea culpa—I had a chance to get a closer look at the ads on the O’Reilly Factor last night. Yikes!
The ads I saw don’t so much promote the notion that it’s a good idea to finish high school and be married before having a child as portray children as little monsters who will ruin your life.
Planned Parenthood has denounced the ads for allegedly ignoring racial factors and because the campaign “shames teen parents and their kids.”
That is not what is wrong with the ads, Planned Parenthood, and indeed I personally have no problem with being judgmental about teen pregnancy. (Coming Apart author Charles Murray believes that society must adopt a more judgmental attitude about social pathologies, of which widespread unwed motherhood is perhaps the most damaging.)
In defense of Bloomberg, I must say that one of the ads I saw carries a good message: “If you finish high school, get a job, and get married before having children, you have a 98 percent chance of not being in poverty.” The mayor’s office is correct when it says that it is “past time” to be “value neutral” about teen pregnancy. Mayor Bloomberg has recognized a serious problem.
Still, overall the ads are extremely troubling.
As a rule, I take a dim view of self-esteem classes.
But in the case of young women who are at risk for teen pregnancy, a dose of self-esteem might not come amiss.
There are reasons to wait until marriage before having children, and it's better to talk about these reasons than to demonize children as creatures who do nothing buy cry and make life a living hell.
Nanny Bloomberg, children aren't sixteen-ounce bottles of soda.