Opinion Brief

New York's new safe-sex campaign: 'Too raw'?

A taxpayer-financed, teen-created ad campaign introduces New York adults to the term "raw dogging" — and not everyone is eager to be enlightened

A New York nonprofit called Community Health Network had a novel idea to educate inner-city teenagers about safe sex, sexually transmitted infections, and respect for people's sexual boundaries: Have inner-city teens create public-service announcements, then post the resulting videos on Vimeo. "Teens talk with slang," says Anthony Murray, 17, who stars in the clip The Importance of Condoms! (watch below). "We don't want to sound phony using too much medical terms." The taxpayer-funded "More Than Just Sex" videos certainly "capture the realities of what is happening in inner-city neighborhoods," says state Assemblyman Rafael Espinal (D-Brooklyn). But with colorful phrases like "raw dogging" (condom-less sex), are the videos, as Espinal argues, "too raw" for young viewers?

This campaign is a terrible idea: Having teenagers speaking frankly about abandoning condoms "has the potential to confuse our youth and encourage to them to actually engage in unsafe sex," state Sen. Marty Golden (R-Brooklyn) tells the New York Daily News. The "unintended consequences" of more teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections are bad enough. But there's simply no way "such an improper advertisement, paid for by the New York taxpayers," should be available to all viewers on the internet.
"Marty Golden heated over raw safe-sex videos"

But the videos are actually quite tame: "These PSAs are clever," says Danielle Sullivan at Babble, and "honestly, they are so tame" that any adult who finds them risqué is either naive or willfully blind. Sure, "raw dogging" is slang, but that's how kids talk. And with half of New York City teens having sex already, "anything we can do to help promote safe sex, the prevention of pregnancy, and STDs is a good thing."
"Are teen safe sex PSAs too controversial?"

And I bet the ads are working: Community Health Network "should have known: Adults hate to hear kids speak frankly about sex," says Joe Coscarelli at New York. But that doesn't mean the group should give up on its teen auteurs. "It's not the best ad ever, but if it's making grown-ups blush, it's probably speaking clearly to young people."
"Local politicians not cool with teen PSA against 'raw dogging'"

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