Thursday, April 7, 2011

What $262k Can Buy You

A simple email from my husband read "You need her job."  I personally like my job, but it peaked my interest when I saw Bristol Palin’s name, who I know is an advocate for abstinence education and the prevention of teen pregnancy.
The headline blew me away, “Bristol Palin earns $262K for teen pregnancy work”. After I picked myself up off the floor, I had three immediate reactions:
  1. No way this can be true - my husband has sent me a tabloid link, but then I realized it was from the Associated Press!
  2. Who is spending this much money on an intervention that is not evidence based and does not make a dent in teen sexual behavior? No offense, she seems like a lovely girl but come on. Put some of this funding towards local organizations on the ground who are effectively working with teens and getting outcomes. 7,879 people commented on this article, most were outraged. My favorite comment , “Bristol Palin giving advice on timing of pregnancies is like Bernie Madoff recommending investment strategies”.  2,000 people liked that comment, including me. There are no resources to waste in this field so for those investing in celebrity (I use this term loosely) speakers to prevent teen pregnancy, they may want to rethink their investment strategy.
  3. Anger! In South Carolina, several of our local youth development organizations’ entire operational budgets do not get close to $262K and they do amazing work, and most importantly, are grounded in science. In the end, I don’t want to knock Bristol, she has made her experience into a career and is promoting a positive message which is great.
The group funding Bristol had this to say as a comment on their webpage: “We know that Ms. Palin's work has had a positive effect on teens. In a recent independent national survey of 1,000 teens that compared a Bristol Palin PSA with those of another national teen pregnancy organization that use non-famous teens, more than twice as many teens (57% vs. 27%) said Bristol's PSA "got my attention", three times as many (41% vs. 11%) said it was "powerful", and more than twice as many (38% vs. 16%) said it was "memorable".” 

Wow, “got my attention”, “powerful” and “memorable” – is that worth a $262K investment? They should give me a call for $262K. I can give them “I did not have sex.”, “Used a condom”, “Went to clinic” and “Increased my knowledge about abstinence and safe sex”. Those are outcomes worth a substantial investment.

Candies, love your shoes and your posters but as foundations and agencies, we should be ethically obligated to invest in strategies that have data to demonstrate effectiveness AND positively impact young people.

By: Polly Edwards Padgett, Director of Local Action for the SC Campaign

No comments:

Post a Comment