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'Pregnant' teen boys featured in Chicago's ad campaign

Published: Wednesday, June 12 2013 1:30 p.m. MDT

CHICAGO — Several unnatural images have been produced by the Chicago Department of Health as a part of their 2013 ad campaign against teen pregnancy.

The tagline for each ad states, "Unexpected? Most teen pregnancies are. Avoid unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. Use condoms. Or wait."

The purpose of the images is to "spark conversations among adolescents and adults on the issue of teen pregnancy and to make the case that teen parenthood is more than just a girl’s responsibility," according to the Chicago Department of Health.

The advertisements have been displayed on public transportation throughout Chicago, directing teens to the website beyoubehealthy.com. Many have already responded on the city's public health social media pages.

Brian Richardson, the spokesman for the Chicago Department of Public Health spoke with Today Moms about the boldness of the campaign.

"We wanted to create an ad campaign that would cut through the clutter and get people thinking about teen pregnancy and teen births, and how it can affect more than just teen girls," Richardson said.

Although in the past 11 years Chicago has seen a 33 percent reduction in teen birth rates, the city's rates are still one and a half more than what the national average is.

"We know we still have a ways to go, and that's one of the reasons why we chose to be a little bit more provocative," said the commissioner of Chicago's Public Heath, Dr. Bechara Choucair while participating in an interview on HuffPost Live. "This is a significant public health issue, and so we have to be aggressive in putting our message out."

A similar campaign took place with the public health department in Milwaukee, Wis., back in 2006. After reviewing a report that showed Milwaukee as having the second highest teenage birthrate, head of the Milwaukee Health Department Bevan Baker knew something needed to happen.

"When it’s happening in your city, you can’t look away," Baker told Governing. "We had to change the dialogue; we had to shock the culture. But we didn’t do it haphazardly."

Advertisements from the Milwaukee Health Department not only featured pregnant teen boys, but targeted parents, encouraging them to have a discussion with their children.

One advertisement said: "Your baby's not a baby anymore. Talk to your teen about sex."

Other advertisements stated: "Think your teen life won't change with a baby?"

The public health department set a goal of reducing the rate of births to 15- and 17-year-olds by 46 percent in nine years. So far the campaign has made a large impact. In October 2012, the teen birth rate had declined 36 percent.

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