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City Launches New Ad Campaign Aimed At Lowering Teen Pregnancy Rate

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg is defending the city's new ad campaign that takes aim at teenage parents, but the ads are coming under fire, including from a City Councilwoman who had a child as a teenager. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.

It's a powerful image. A young child with tears in his eyes with a pointed message for his mom: "I'm twice as likely not to graduate high school because you had me as a teen."

The ad is part of a new campaign by the city to urge teenagers to think long and hard about the consequences of having a baby.

"If you want to stand out, you've got to really do something different, dramatic," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Critics say the messages cross the line.

City Councilwoman Annabel Palma was a teenage mother herself.

"I find it offensive that we have to target our teens in certain communities by telling them that they won't have a future. That's not the way to go," she said. "I was told by my own father, 'You will amount to nothing.'"

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is no fan of the city's message, either. She said the city needs to change its campaign.

"I would urge them to rework them and kind of tone the blame down," she said.

Earlier this week, Planned Parenthood of New York City said the city is perpetuating gender stereotypes and presenting stigmatizing, fear-based messages.

The ads are up on bus shelters and on the Staten Island Ferry. By Monday, they will be on the subway.

"I had my first at 17," said one person. "All teenagers should know about teenage pregnancy. Advertise it the best way you can. That way, you can bring down the teenage pregnancy rate."

"These kids are not going to read this, and they're not going to look at that," said another. "They are going to look at that and laugh."

"It will make people think more before they decide to go ahead with the pregnancy," said a third.

City officials sid that the city's teen pregnancy rate has fallen by 27 percent over the last 10 years, but there are still more than 20,000 teen pregnancies each year.

"It's incumbent on us to explain to young kids that if you have a child, there's an enormous amount of responsibility that goes with it," Bloomberg said.

It's a responsibility the city said teenagers need to think about.

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