I experienced a major head-spin at seeing the overly-made-up teen vamp Hilary Duff declaring herself against teen pregnancy-- but, lo and behold, the Candies Group (yes, the same folks who made that sexy wooden slide so popular back in the 70s) is trying to help reduce teen pregnancy. The Candies Foundation has a Website dedicated to their mission of "educating American youth about the devastating consequences of teen pregnancy".
All I can say is.... well, I admit to being a bit confused. Messages are mixed-- a big fundraiser is the "Be Sexy" T-shirt-- but the ads clearly focus on doing the right thing. A number of famous and beautiful faces (Alicia Keyes, Ashlee Simpson, the Dixie Chicks, Jenny McCarthy, among many others) declare in print ads:
"Be Strong--Don't Be a Statistic"
"Be Focused-- Don't Give Up on Your Education"
"Be Smart-- Think Twice"
"Be Vocal-- Say No Way"
They seem to be trying to walk a fine line between courting the sexy fashion culture and advising girls to say no to sex. It's interesting that abstinence is featured prominently, and not in any backhanded way-- it really does seem genuine. Their bottom line is "Be Sexy-- It Doesn't Mean You Have to Have Sex".
Well, OK. I guess it has a better ring to it than "Be Frumpy-- Wear a Blanket". And at least we are hearing the right message. It does make things a bit awkward, though, when your supporting organization is selling "hot" clothes and makeup to make you look like Mata Hari. But I think their hearts are in the right place.
They sponsor some wonderful Public Service Announcements, including one where Jenny McCarthy reads the riot act to two teens about to have sex in the back seat of a car-- and hands them a crying baby to remind them of the consequences. Their "Facts" page gives straightforward and sobering data about teen pregnancies in the US today. Their main link is to the Website of TeenPregnancy.org, home of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, and is chock full of good stuff to help the girl on the fence avoid sex before she's ready. It even discusses moral and --gasp-- religious teachings as support for saying no, as well as linking to sites like NotMeNotNow (an abstinence education site) and Covenant House, a NYC-based organization that assists runaway and homeless teens.
Unfortunately, they do try to cover all the bases, and in so doing, kind of undermine the abstinence message. A listed "related site" (not necessarily endorsed) is Teen Wire, which is sponsored by Planned Parenthood. Besides being scary explicit, this site is not shy about exhorting teens to "Get Involved!"-- volunteering to help keep the world safe for abortion. Which, I suppose, is another way of reducing teen pregnancy-- just not the way I'd prefer to see it. And while I am truly grateful for any assistance in pushing back against this creepy culture, I fear that their way is too much of a concession.
But we don’t just sit in a huff and criticize, we take action!