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Campaign for Our Children Unveils Ground-Breaking ’’Marriage Works’’ Public Awareness Program; New Pilot Program Touts Benefits of Marriage to Older Teens in MD and D.C.


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BALTIMORE -- Feb. 1, 2005 -- Campaign for Our Children (CFOC), a nonprofit group established in 1987 to promote adolescent preventive-health issues, today unveiled “Marriage Works,” a bold new public awareness program aimed at 15 to 19 year olds. The first-of-its-kind program includes advertisements that encourage reaching adulthood before bearing a child as well as a comprehensive Web site for teens, parents and health educators at www.marriageworksusa.com.

The spots will begin appearing as part of a pilot program in Maryland and Washington D.C. on February 1 and are expected to be used in other parts of the country in the near future.

CFOC, known for its ubiquitous “VIRGIN” billboards, among other high-profile public awareness initiatives, has significantly contributed to the national decline in births to teens over the last two decades. In concert with the launch of the pilot program, the organization also declared February, “National Marriage Month,” an effort it will continue to support in the years to come with new marriage-oriented program elements.

The “Marriage Works” pilot program will run through the month of February and peaks on Valentine’s Day, the occasion people of all ages associate with love and marriage. The campaign includes focused and persuasive television and radio commercials as well as billboards, online banners, transit and bus shelter advertisements, and school lesson plans and posters. The materials feature various images of young people as well as select messages in Spanish. In addition to communicating the larger benefits of the widely respected institution of marriage, the ads direct people to visit www.marriageworksusa.com.

National Research Shows Marriage DOES Work

The philosophy behind the new “Marriage Works” program is deeply rooted in recent research that shows children do best when raised by two parents inside a healthy marriage. Children of married parents will most likely do better in school and are more likely to have long-lasting marriages themselves. Boys raised by married parents are also less likely to commit crimes.

The benefits of marriage are plentiful for parents, too: Married people earn and save more money, enjoy better physical and mental health, live longer, and exhibit lower rates of substance abuse. In fact, a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control showed that, among the 127,545 adults polled for its National Health Interview Study, married adults tend to be healthier than divorced, widowed or never married adults.

“Everyone agrees there are negative consequences associated with unplanned teenage childbearing, both to the child as well as to society at large,” said Hal Donofrio, president and chief executive officer of Campaign for Our Children. “We want to literally send a message to teens that delaying childbearing until adulthood and until they are married provides a brighter future for them and their child.”

The impetus behind the “Marriage Works” campaign is, in part, the striking number of pregnancies among unwed teens in the United States. In 2003, 81 percent of all teen pregnancies were to unmarried mothers, which represented an increase from 2002.

“This program has the potential to make an overwhelmingly positive impact on young people in the MD and DC area as well as throughout the entire nation,” said John P. Zaremba, Ph.D., president of the Robert Crown Center for Health Education, a Chicago-based organization that provides instruction to children on sex education and other health issues. “We applaud CFOC for taking this critical step toward educating our youth about the benefits of marriage and reducing the burden that out of wedlock teen births places on our taxpayers.”

“Marriage Works” is one of the many ways that CFOC is reaching out to reduce unwanted births among teens. Since its inception, CFOC has worked with all 50 states on various teen pregnancy prevention initiatives as well as with a number of countries outside the United States.

“The ’Marriage Works’ program is a natural progression in the work of CFOC, a group whose mission has always been to reduce teen pregnancy rates throughout the United States,” said Janet Hardy, M.D.C.M., Pediatrics Professor Emerita at Johns Hopkins University and a member of CFOC’s board of directors. “Mature choices made by youth are most often the result of a stable family life and role modeling of good parents.”

Editor’s note: research sources available upon request. The specifics of the media buy are also available. Please call 917-741-6246 for more information.

About CFOC

Established in 1987, CFOC was initially formed to address the high teen birth rate in Maryland through a comprehensive, hands-on program to educate children, parents and the general public. Since its inception, the program has contributed greatly to the overall national decline in births to teens. CFOC’s materials have been incorporated into adolescent prevention programs, schools and community organizations in all 50 states and in other countries such as Zimbabwe, New Zealand, Canada, Yugoslavia and Germany.

For more information, please visit www.cfoc.org and www.marriageworksusa.com.



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