Young Parents Day 2016: Using Social Media to Change the Narrative

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When we hear the words “teen parent,” we often think of cautionary tales about “babies having babies” or “irresponsible teenagers.” But for some young people, making their own reproductive choices has led to positive outcomes. Allowing young people to make sexual and reproductive choices free of stigma or judgment is what allows young parents to be successful in raising their children. Some young parents have been pushing back against stigmatizing advertisements and PSAs from the Candie’s Foundation and the New York City government, defending their right to choose whether or not they would like to parent, and their right to make a decision with non-judgmental support.

On this Young Parents Day, August 25, 2016, we want to highlight some of the ways that young parents are speaking their truths and using social media change the narrative.

  1. Working with the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) and the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy, young parents are speaking out on Youtube against campaigns that stigmatize teens who parent, telling them that they should be “changing the world” instead of “changing diapers.” Why not both?
  2. In response to the Candies Foundation’s #NoTeenPreg campaign, which used stigma to shame young parents, the #NoTeenShame hashtag de-stigmatizes the experiences of young parents, instead of shaming them and withdrawing avenues of support. The hashtag, started by Gloria Malone, Natasha Vianna, and five other young parents, took off and continues to uplift narratives and voices of strong, successful young parents. The campaign works year-round, focusing on reshaping the narratives that are pushed on teens during months like Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month.
  3. Gloria Malone, young parent advocate and member of the #NoTeenShame campaign, runs a blog called Teen Mom NYC, chronicling her own experiences as a young parent and providing tips for other pregnant and parenting young people. Through her honest blog posts, she provides a realistic perspective on the challenges and joys of being a young parent.
  4. The PushBack is a blog run by the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy, offering young parents a forum to share their stories and respond to stigmatizing campaigns against teen pregnancy. The blog offers young parents of all genders the opportunity to weigh in on their perspectives.
  5. As part of their platform, the Strong Families Movement has compiled information and statistics about young parenthood, highlighting state and federal legislation to provide resources to young parents and recognize them for their work as parents. Through this Young Parents Cohort, resources from local and national organizations are coming together online to support young parents through a policy lens.
  6. Young Women United released a report that dismantles the stigmatizing and harmful myths about teen pregnancy prevention. Share their graphics on social media and raise awareness of how myths about teen pregnancy actually fuels discrimination of young parents causing harm to their families.

While parenting is a task that not everyone is ready to take on as a young person, there are a number of organizations and individuals working to de-stigmatize this choice and provide support to those who choose parenting. Celebrate Young Parents Day 2016 this Thursday by following the #NoTeenShame hashtag, sharing the NLIRH YouTube video, linking to a blog, or contacting your legislator about one of the bills mentioned in the Strong Families Movement platform.
Image via Lushaflor YouTube


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