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Graphic video aims to stem teen pregnancies

/ Source: The Associated Press

A gory video meant to shock teenagers into avoiding pregnancy by showing a girl giving birth on a school field while ogling children taunt her is capturing plenty of attention from Web users.

Public health officials in the city of Leicester, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of London, produced the video and posted it on social networking and video-sharing sites such as YouTube and Facebook.

Organizers said Wednesday that the video, filmed to look as if it were shot on another student's cell phone, had received more than 250,000 hits.

The video shows a girl in a school uniform screaming in agony while jeering children jostle for a close look, while another girl trying to fend them off is helping deliver the baby.

The video ends with the caption: "Not what you expected? Being a teenage parent might not be either."

Public health officials in Leicester said local students were picked to act in the video and that a focus group of students offered suggestions on how to make it.

Liz Rodrigo, a public health specialist in Leicester, said kids came up with the video's concept, saying they liked the idea of using digital media to reach their peers instead of leaflets and posters they disliked.

She said they also prefer a shocking or funny approach instead of "preachy," a word often used to describe the current sex education methods.

The video has drawn criticism as well as praise, but Rodrigo says that comes with the territory.

"I think it is very hard hitting. Hairs on the back of my neck do stand up, but you know teenage pregnancy is a hard-hitting issue and we've got lots of teenage pregnancies in our city," she said.

There are about 50 conceptions per 1,000 girls between the ages of 15 and 17 in Leicester City, eight more than the country's average, according to statistics provided by Leicester City public health officials.

Overall, Britain's teen-pregnancy rates are among the highest in Europe and one recent report indicated that they are on the rise, specifically in England and Wales.

The government and educators have been trying to address the problem by distributing condoms in some schools, creating a sex-education program for the youngest elementary-school students and instituting a pilot program to distribute birth-control pills without a prescription.