Sunday, October 10, 2010

Teen Parents Media Portrayal Confusion

Michelle Gabrieloff-Parish, the youth programs coordinator for the Open Media Foundation, spoke about the two stereotypical portrayals of teen parents through popular media, such as 16 and Pregnant, as being accurate but gender-skewed.

Through a series of self-produced films combined with Gabrieloff-Parish’s personal experiences with young parents, the young women feel as though they are accurately portrayed through the media, while young men feel they are portrayed in a negative manner. Those young fathers have been given a chance to portray themselves in the right light.

The Open Media Foundation partnered with the Denver Department of Human Services, and more specifically the Denver Child Support Enforcement office, to create a grassroots program giving teen parents the opportunity to be involved in a paid internship. Through these internships, the young parents are responsible for filming and producing public service announcements regarding teen pregnancy and the life of a young parent today.

These internship opportunities came about after marketing research discovered that young people 16-24 years old were unable to be reached through traditional marketing strategies, which include the 1980s version of negative campaigning. While these films are an experimental concept for marketing, the goal is for the unreached age margin to hear out the stories of people their own age under given circumstances.

According to Gabrieloff-Parish, the young fathers have been the most empowered and rewarded through this process. Most young men faced with a teen pregnancy are treated poorly and expected to ditch the mother, says Gabrieloff-Parish. One young man took on the task of developing a fatherhood radio show, where he was able to talk about his own trials and tribulations as a new father being expected to leave the mother and child, as well as interview other fathers in similar situations.

“These kids have been empowered through this process,” says Gabrieloff-Parish. “They’ve found power behind their own story and being able to provide media to others.”

While young men have described their treatment even among caring figures, such as nurses during the birth of their child, as poor, they’re looking to show their support, importance and responsibility in the lives of their children.

Currently only one film production project has been turned completed, but four are expected to be finalized by the end of the year.

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