Virgin Mobile asks kids to strip for charity

Filed under: Teens, Health & Safety: Babies, In The News

It guess it sounded like a good idea on paper: a national campaign to collect clothing donations for homeless youth featuring non-homeless, fully-clothed youth. Except for the part where the clothed youth are supposed to take their clothes off. Sponsored by cell-phone company Virgin Mobile and National Network For Youth (NN4Y), the Strip2Clothe campaign asks young people to make a video of themselves stripping and post it online. Clothing companies then donate new clothes based on the number of times the video is viewed.

This strip-tease idea doesn't sit well with some of the organizations the campaign is intended to benefit. Catholic Charities, among other groups, has complained saying the effort is inappropriate and that it exploits young people. Rebecca Lentz, a spokeswoman for Catholic Charities, is especially horrified because she says that it isn't uncommon for kids who find themselves on the streets to be sexually exploited within days of becoming homeless.

Victoria Wagner, chief executive of NN4Y, says the program is now being re-evaluated. "It's unfortunate it's become so explosive," she said. Unfortunate, indeed, since many of those who are complaining are members of NN4Y and were not informed of the campaign before it kicked off.

To be fair, the rules for video submission stipulate that there is to be no full nudity and the videos I viewed were in no way risque. Like it or not, the campaign appears to be going quite well - the site reports close to 150,000 donations so far.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.