In 2001, the Income Maintenance Administration of the DC Department of Human Services (DHS/IMA), selected MEE Productions Inc. to design and implement the Be On The Safe Side Campaign, a citywide teen pregnancy prevention outreach and information campaign. Be On The Safe Side promoted abstinence and safe sex practices to youth in Washington, DC. The four broad goals of the Campaign were to:
- Increase awareness about teen pregnancy and its consequences;
- Change norms, attitudes and values regarding teen pregnancy;
- Promote abstinence as a viable option for teens; and
- Encourage parent and child communication about sexuality, reproductive health, and the risk of teen pregnancy.
The campaign ran for five years and combined both traditional and non-traditional communication channels in a culturally relevant, peer-led initiative. The major campaign components are listed below:
Peer-to-Peer Communication included both a Community Action Team (CAT) of youth who conducted street outreach throughout the city and a Peer Group Leadership Network (PGLN) that offered presentations at schools and community events along with one-on-one dialogue with their peers. To view images from the youth outreach sessions, click here.
Media and Materials
- Radio Ads: Culturally-relevant radio commercials targeting both youth and their caregivers were placed on DC’s most popular stations, including WKYS-FM, WOL and WPGC-FM.
- TV PSAs: Television public service announcements (PSAs) containing strong “call to action” messages engaged the broader Washington community to support and become involved in the campaign. The PSAs aired on local network, independent, Spanish-language and cable outlets.
- Transit Ads: Transit advertising was placed on the major Metro rail and bus lines on which youth travel.
- Campaign Video: The Much Respect for DC Youth campaign video and group discussion guide used street interviews, dramatic vignettes and “rap” sessions to capture the realities and voices of teens living in Washington, DC
- Campaign CD: Cause ‘N Effect, a youth-produced audio CD, showcases the talents of DC youth as they share their perspectives on sexuality through rap music, songs, testimonials, skits and spoken word.
- Print Materials: Campaign brochures, postcards and posters, developed in both English and Spanish supported and added to the Campaign’s key messages.
The Be On The Safe Side Campaign cultivated campaign partnerships with more than 200 community-based organizations in Washington, such as grassroots groups, recreation centers, community centers, advisory councils and schools.
One of the focuses of the campaign was the development and enhancement of a Faith-Based Community Network made up of local DC churches, faith-based organizations and other relevant programs.
Community forums brought youth and adults together in a safe and stimulating environment where they could discuss the complex issues related to youth sexuality, providing an additional outlet to reinforce and sustain the Be On The Safe Side Campaign messages with parents and other community adults.
Satellite Resource Centers, covering every corridor of the city, served as distribution points for the campaign materials and a place where community members could access teen pregnancy prevention information and receive referral services via the toll-free Campaign Hotline, 1-866-DC-YOUTH.
The campaign offered numerous communication strategies workshops that helped providers, parents and service providers successfully communicate with teens about sexuality issues.
Technical assistance and communications capacity building training was also provided to a number of DC organizations that were DHS/IMA grantees or offered teen pregnancy prevention programs.
—Janae Bradshaw, Woodrow Wilson SHS
—Catherine Mithika, Woodrow Wilson SHS
The Be On The Safe Side campaign allowed me to meet other young adults who also believe in making a positive difference in our community. The campaign gave me the opportunity to spread and share the message about “safe sex or no sex” with my friends and helped me to be able to talk about it more with my parents.
—Alexis Beverly, Calvin Coolidge SHS
—Henry “Dis-com-bob-u-lating” Jones, MSW-LICSW DHS/Teen Parent Assessment Program
—Geneie Beverly, mother of campaign participant and Community Action Team member Alexis Beverly
—Lamar Johnson, Woodrow Wilson SHS
—Lamont Graham, Anacostia SHS