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Can Young Latinas Get the Message About Healthy Relationships From a Comic Book?

LatinaLista — Babies having babies.

It’s a thought that runs through everyone’s minds when they see a young teenage girl pregnant.

It’s common knowledge that the majority of these “babies having babies” are young Latinas.

In the state of Virginia alone, the Latina teen birth rate increased 50% between 1990 and 2003 as reported by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.

And in a new study released today by the Guttmacher Institute titled, Social Ecological Predictors of Repeat Adolescent Pregnancy, it was found that these same young girls are likely to not just stop with one baby but have more — especially if the fathers of their first children are three years older than themselves.

But how do you get the mensaje (message) to these young Latinas that dating older guys is not all that cool when it can most probably result with a screaming baby?

Well, the Virginia Health Department thinks they know how — deliver the message in a medium that is relevant to this age group — a comic book.

But this isn’t any animated cartoon stuff. It’s real life like only novelas can convey.

Definitely drawing inspiration from the telenovela genre, Virginia’s health department is distributing the mini-book Gracias Papa

The 15-page booklet targets Latinas ages 11-17 and illustrates what are healthy dating relationships.

Page from “Gracias Papa.”
(Source: Virginia Health Dept.)

The book should appeal to both boys and girls. It has good-looking actors, “real” dialogue and very common situations that too many young Latinas find themselves in these days.

The basic message that the book tries to get across to teens is to not let anyone “guilt” you into a sexual relationship, and to realize that being older doesn’t make a person smarter.

Now, if we can just work on the message that there’s nothing sexy about being a poor, pregnant parent before you’re even legal to drive or drink.

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