“Pregnant” boys with bloated bellies and sullen faces are popping up in alarming ads across Chicago buses and trains, part of a city campaign to reduce teenage pregnancy.
The images, with the tagline, “Unexpected? Most teen pregnancies are,” aim to shock, said Brian Richardson, a spokesman for the Chicago Department of Health.
“The point was to get people’s attention and get conversation started about teen pregnancy and teen births, and how they really affect a community,” Richardson told the Daily News.
Ads were concentrated around schools and in areas of Chicago with the highest rates of teen pregnancy.
The point, Richardson said, is that when a young girl gets pregnant, she’s not the only one who suffers.
“The daughters of teen mothers are more likely to become teen moms themselves,” he said. “And the sons of teen moms are more likely to go to prison. These are challenges that go beyond one girl or one woman.
“The more we can work together to drive down the birth rate, and provide more information to teens, the better off we’ll all be.”
While shocking, the images of the pregnant boys aren’t new. They were first used in Milwaukee in 2009, for a similar campaign with a slightly different tagline: “It shouldn’t be any less disturbing when it’s a girl.”
That campaign was credited with a subsequent 10% drop in Milwaukee’s teen pregnancy rate, according to the nonprofit ad agency that created the images.
The ads in Chicago, which launched in early May to honor National Teen Pregnancy Month, are only one part of a broader campaign.
Free condoms and brochures about both contraception and abstinence are being distributed at public high schools, and teens are urged to visit BeYouBeHealthy.org for more information.
While most reaction to the campaign has been positive, some commenters on the health department’s Facebook page worried the ads are disrespectful towards the transgender community.
(Courtesy New York Daily News)