A high-profile advertising campaign against teen pregnancy in Maryland is taking on an even broader challenge: getting young men to support the children they father.
"You Play, You Pay" is the theme of the latest series of public service ads prepared by Campaign for Our Children, the non-profit organization that developed the widely aired television spots that urge teen-agers not to have sex.
The new effort uses images ranging from chickens to wide-eyed babies in an attempt to shame young fathers into paying child support.
"We want to make sure that the young men understand their responsibilities," said Hal Donofrio, the Baltimore advertising executive who heads Campaign for Our Children. "There are laws that say if you have a child, you have to support that child -- even if you're a kid."
The group released five posters carrying that message yesterday. One features a chicken wearing tennis shoes and asks, "What do you call a guy who makes a baby and flies the coop?"
Another uses a baby's face to make its point. "It's amazing how many guys disappear when one of these shows up," it says.
Mr. Donofrio said the posters will be hung on state buses and trains as well as in public schools and health clinics. Television and radio spots with the new theme have not yet been developed, but probably will follow, he said.
Campaign for Our Children was launched with a small state grant several years ago, but its efforts have been funded primarily by the private sector.
Maryland businesses and foundations have contributed roughly $5 million in cash and services to finance not just the media campaign, but educational literature and research designed to measure the campaign's effect in changing teen-age behavior, according to Mr. Donofrio.