Students suggest that comprehensive sex and consumption education would be more effective
By CJ Sommerfeld, Staff Writer
A new ad campaign has swept across Vancouver billboards and bus stops. The campaign titled “One planet, one child” confronts future parents in making informed contraception choices. The non-profit that commissioned the ads, World Population Balance, advocates for smaller family sizes as a means of reducing population growth and decreasing humanity’s carbon footprint.
The billboards propagate a variety of images that range from an intimate couple to happy single-child families. These images are accompanied with phrases that read “Conservation begins at conception,” “Love the planet,” and “The most loving gift you can give your child is to not have another.” The campaign aims to convince its viewers that smaller family sizes are an effective means of decreasing population overgrowth. This overgrowth is something that the non-profit notes as problematic in the industrialized world. The non-profit’s website outlines by-products of population overgrowth that include “resource depletion, species extinction, poverty, and climate change.” Their website also notes that overpopulation is reversible in the instance that future families choose to only have one child.
Sam Bowlby, a Kwantlen public relations student, notes the ad campaign to be ineffective in an interview with the Other Press. “It’s not like anyone sees those ads and thinks ‘well that’s my decision made!’” She acknowledges that overpopulation is an issue, however, Bowlby believes that the campaign is targeting the wrong population. When writing a paper that tackled similar topics that the campaign was addressing, Bowlby found that a large factor in women having many children is education. “Women who have no education often go on to have tons of kids.” She states that she “thinks that [the] campaign in Vancouver is so out of place […] comprehensive sex education would be great but this ain’t it. In places that are poverty-stricken it’s a massive problem—but that’s due more to complex socio-economic issues than people just wanting to have a big family,” she said.
Allie Fulp, a graduate research assistant at NC State University, offered another perspective on the billboard campaign. She had worked as a house parent in a foster care facility where she worked with children who had many siblings. In an online interview with the Other Press, she shared a story of a young girl who was one of twelve children, and neither her nor any of her siblings were planned. It is unclear whether the “One planet, one child”ad campaign would have enlightened this mother of twelve to use better contraception methods as this campaign is targeted at families that are planning to have children.
While circumstances where families are having many children do occur throughout the industrialized world, this number is lower than in underdeveloped countries. “Often, underdeveloped countries have less access to birth control and family planning services. Both are probably having similar amounts of sex with drastically different outcomes,” Fulp said.
Bowlby notes that this billboard campaign would probably be ineffective in underdeveloped countries, and instead offers an alternative suggestion. “There needs to be systematic change—better access to education and resources. It’s not a conscious choice to lay about and have 10 kids […] this is the cycle of poverty and lack of education and basic necessities. A media campaign isn’t going to cut it,” she said.