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Teen Pregnancy: 'Flipping the Message'

Not long ago, the effort to reduce the number of teenage pregnancies in Milwaukee was seen as a resounding success.  The rate dropped 56% between 2006 and 2013.

But last month, the latest statistics showed the rate climbed slightly - around 1% - in the past 12 months.  Almost 24 of every 1,000 girls in Milwaukee between 15 or 17 years old gave birth to a child last year. A new public service campaign has taken a different approach to the issue.  It addresses parents who, themselves, had children at a young age. 

"I think, like a lot of parents, you just assume your kids will learn from your mistakes.  And so you don’t actively participate in those kinds of conversations," says Jarrett Fields who himself became a grandparent seven years ago at the age of 33.

The campaign's message?  You’re too young to be a grandparent -so talk to your children.

"When you flip the messaging around and then suddenly a parents realizes, 'oh wow, I'm too young to be a grandparent,' suddenly it's kind of a different inspiring way to get their attention," says Gary Mueller, founder and volunteer creative director for Serve Marketing.


In addition to getting the attention of parents, the campaign also prompts discussions between adults and teenagers about safe sex practices, in order to get everyone thinking about preventing teen pregnancy.

"Despite what parents may think...kids actually want their parents to be their primary sex educator," says Nicole Angresano, Vice President of Community Impact for United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County.


Audrey is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.