TODAY   |  March 08, 2013

Do NYC anti-teen pregnancy ads go too far?

New York City’s new campaign against teen pregnancy is receiving backlash from critics who say it unnecessarily targets young mothers and their children, while others call it simply “brutally honest.” NBC’s Mara Schiavocampo reports.

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>>> ad that's raising some controversy this morning.

>> that campaign was launched earlier this week in new york city and critics are already lining up, saying it unnecessarily targets young mothers and their babies. it's an anti- teen pregnancy message right from the mouths of babes. ads, featuring toddlers saying things like "dad, you'll be paying to support me for the next 20 years." honestly mom, chances are he won't stay with you and one toddler in tears proclaims i'm twice as likely not to graduate high school because you had me as a teen. new york city is now unveiling the ads as part of their new anti- teen pregnancy campaign. roughly 4,000 posters are going up all over the city.

>> it's a strong, pretty intense poster. i wouldn't call it exactly offensive, but i don't know if it's necessary.

>> it's brutally honest and that's what some people need. it's a wake-up call.

>> reporter: new york city already requires sex ed and provides emergency contraception in some schools. this is the city's latest crusade since its tough obese sbit smoking campaign.

>> i chose to smoke and then this is what this decision cost me.

>> we want to make it clear to teenagers that there are significant responsibilities and burdens that come with parenthood and teenagers need to hear these strong messages.

>> reporter: some are crying foul over these babies, saying they unfairly stigmatize teen parents and their children. a mentoring program for teen moms gave birth to her son when she was just 19 years old.

>> i believe the city's new campaign is negative toward teen moms and it perpetuates a stereotype that teen moms are not successful when, really, that's knotted tnot the case and many teen moms defy the odds.

>> reporter: they do work, after milwaukee started using strong ads their teen rate dropped.

>> it's decreased nearly 35% since the inception of this campaign in 2006 .

>> reporter: new york hopes to see same results, using little messengers to address a big problem. ads also include a number that the teens can text to get more information about unplanned pregnancies. they can even play a game designed to teach them about the harsh realities of becoming a young parent. very strong messages here.

>> mara, very interesting story. thank you very much.