The United Way of Greater Milwaukee is desperate to lower teen pregnancy rates in their region. Milwaukee has one of the highest rates of births to teens in the United States, but in 2008, the United Way set a goal to reduce births to 15 to 17 year olds by 46% by 2015 through various public outreach programs and partnerships.
“No other community has a goal that bold, and what we know is we have to have equally bold tactics to reach that number,” spokeperson Nicole Angresano told the local media.
Their latest campaign is a guerrilla stunt aimed at girls and parents shopping for fancy clothes to wear to their upcoming high school proms, the social event of a student’s school year. As it’s also an occasion fraught with sexual tension, the United Way decided to remind youth that unplanned pregnancy can turn their worlds upside down.
They placed pregnant mannequins in participating fancy dress stores, with tags on them that read, “A prom date is better without a due date.”
The campaign directs teens (and frightened parents) to Baby Can Wait, a resource site with information on birth control, talking about sexuality, accessing medical services, and sexual assault.
While one could see this campaign as having the unintended consequence of shaming teens who are already pregnant, the United Way insists that they will do whatever it takes to raise awareness and lower teen pregnancy rates. “We have to be aggressive in our approach,” says Ms. Angresano “We have to give it to them straight. We have to be hard-hitting. We can’t put soft pieces out there. We can’t be touchy feely about this.”
In October 2011, the City of Milwaukee announced a 13.6% drop in the teen birth rate to its lowest level in decades. (The data were from 2010: 35.7 births per 1,000 females aged 15-17 years old.)
See a flash video of Fox11’s television coverage of the campaign after the break.