Let's Empower Young Dads, Not Stigmatize Them

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Originally posted at Huffington Post

By Jessica González-Rojas

A number of recent campaigns have taken an unfortunate approach to trying to tackle the issue of teen pregnancy. Rather than supplying youth with the tools and information they desperately need, they've chosen to simply try to shame young people out of parenthood, a tactic that's not only ineffective but is deeply hurtful to young parents. But one of the worst aspects of these campaigns is how they stereotype young fathers.

A recent, widely criticized campaign in New York City, for example, tells potential young mothers that their male partners will leave if they get pregnant, completely ignoring the realities of the many young dads across the country who are loving fathers and partners. A similar ad campaign from the Candie's Foundation might be even worse because it essentially ignores young dads all together, focusing solely on female teens, as if they got pregnant alone. These campaigns tell young people their lives are over if their partner gets pregnant and that having a baby 'sucks'. What's worse, these campaigns do not offer any comprehensive tools or resources for young people to turn to for questions about sex, sexuality, contraception and prevention. The blame and shame that these ad campaigns promote actively undermine young men who want to choose to be actively involved fathers.

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Jessica González-Rojas is the Executive Director at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, the only national reproductive justice organization that specifically works to advance reproductive health and rights for Latinas. Jessica spearheads the research, field organizing, and advocacy operations in the New York headquarters as well as the Washington DC policy office, and is a national spokesperson and leading national advocate for Latinas.

This blog post is part of the Strong Families' first Papa's Day celebration. You can read more posts in the series on the Strong Families blogStrong Families is a national initiative led by Forward Together. Our goal is to change the way people think, act and talk about families.

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