Chicago – Last May, the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) made international headlines with attention grabbing images of pregnant teen boys. This May, CDPH looks at what happens if those pregnant boys gave birth and became dads – reminding all teens that parenting is a very ‘big’ responsibility.
Called ‘Big Baby,’ the campaign features an attention-grabbing image of a teen boy holding a giant baby, a baby that is even larger than the teen himself who is noticeably weighed down by the new arrival. Below the image, the text reads ‘Not ready for the heavy responsibility of being a parent? Then carry something lighter. Use Condoms. Or wait.’
“Teen pregnancy is an issue that affects all of us,” said CDPH Commissioner Bechara Choucair, M.D. “We hope these ads will spark conversations about the responsibilities and burdens that come with parenting, which will in turn encourage more teens to make healthier, smarter choices today.”
The ads are currently displayed on bus shelters across Chicago and will be featured in select teen publications during the month of May, national teen pregnancy prevention month.
Similar to last year’s campaign, ‘Big Baby’ challenges gender stereotypes by featuring a young male parent, reminding residents that pregnancy and healthy sexual choices are not the exclusive responsibilities of teen girls. The campaign also directs youth to visit BeYouBeHealthy.org, a website from CDPH that provides adolescents and parents with information about sex, healthy relationships, condoms and more.
The most recent data show that Chicago’s teen birth rate decreased 33 percent over ten years, outpacing a 21-percent decrease seen nationwide. Even still, the teen birth rate in Chicago is still one and a half times higher than the national average.
“We are moving the needle in the right direction when it comes to adolescent health, but there is more work to be done,” continued Dr. Choucair. “This campaign is part of a comprehensive, citywide effort to help our youth make better choices today so they can grow into healthier, happier adults tomorrow.”
In February of this year, CDPH released Chicago’s Action Plan for Healthy Adolescents, providing 65 actionable strategies on topics including sexual health, tobacco use and nutrition to improve the overall health and well-being of Chicago youth. In 2013, CDPH worked closely with the Chicago Board of Education to pass new standards for comprehensive sexual health education. Following the City’s action, CDPH supported a similar law at the state level requiring medically accurate, comprehensive curriculum be used in other school districts that choose to teach sex education.
CDPH is also working with Chicago Public Schools to make condoms available in 24 high schools this fall as part of the Condom Availability Project. In February of this year, CDPH announced a new effort to encourage adolescents to get their HPV vaccine in order to protect against cancer, with funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For more information on these efforts, visit www.cityofchicago.org/Health.