Regarding Ruth Marcus’s March 23 op-ed column, “Teens deserve the truth about parenthood”:

This latest in a stream of responses to the controversial New York City ads about teen pregnancy documents the negative reception to this campaign. Though I find the ads deplorable, I do not wish to argue about their tone. Instead, I take umbrage with the manipulation of research findings to deliver messages that are a long way from the “truth.”

Take the poster of the crying baby, which reads, “I’m twice as likely not to graduate high school because you had me as a teen.” Even those who have taken only Statistics 101 know that correlation is not causation. In fact, studies have found that when one adequately controls for preexisting poverty and disadvantage among teen parents, there is no evidence that teen childbearing itself causes negative educational outcomes for children. Those who become teen parents in the United States are already, on average, poorer and more disadvantaged. To suggest that teen childbearing itself causes such negative outcomes is to ignore this reality.

If we really want to tell the truth about teen pregnancy, we will start with an honest conversation about economic and social inequality and stop manipulating research to further a policy agenda. 

Julia Kohn, New York