ATLANTA—In an effort to introduce the subject in a fun and kid-friendly way, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday the launch of its new “Raw Dog the STI Pup” campaign, which warns young children about the dangers of unprotected sex.
The campaign’s stated aim is to raise student awareness of sexually transmitted infections by distributing to the nation’s health educators thousands of colorful posters, stickers, and storybooks featuring Raw Dog, a mangy, lesion-ridden puppy who fails to use protection. The CDC said it believes kids between the ages of 8 and 12 will respond to the mischievous but lovable canine, who embarks upon misadventures with a colorful cast of animal friends named Hepatitis Bee, Clam Idia, and Sperm Whale.
“With the nation’s STI rate at a record high, we realized we needed a fun-loving character like Raw Dog who could really show kids the importance of throwing on a glove before you fuck,” said CDC representative Martin Searle, who described how Raw Dog developing jaundiced yellow eyes and fungal blisters after failing to “wrap his wick” offered an entertaining and thought-provoking tale that children could easily grasp. “It’s amazing how quickly youngsters pick up on Raw Dog’s lessons when they see him complaining about frequent penile discharge or dragging his ass along the ground because gonorrhea makes him itchy.”
“Plus, he’s so darn cute!” added Searle, cradling one of the many shedding, patchy-furred Raw Dog plush toys being sent to classrooms nationwide.
Through storytelling, puppetry, and sing-alongs featuring Raw Dog’s pesky foes, Stinky and Pinky, CDC officials said they hope to drive home the benefits of proper prophylactic use to elementary school students. The agency also detailed plans to send costumed characters such as Gretchen the Genital Warthog to schools for in-class demonstrations of how “getting ridden hard without a rubber” can lead to a lifetime of genital herpes outbreaks.
According to the CDC, the campaign will also provide educators with 45-minute animated videos depicting Raw Dog’s troubles, including Don’t Forget To Wear A Hat, Raw Dog!, a story in which the narrator scolds the incorrigible for puppy for not wearing a condom while “busting a nut,” and You Don’t Look So Good, Raw Dog!, in which syphilis from bareback sex in an alley behind a dumpster causes him to develop painful, oozing pustules and start urinating blood.
“We’re really exploring some pretty exciting ways to show young kids the importance of strapping that shit before intercourse,” said Searle, pointing to Raw Dog’s Hole-Pounding Adventure, a CDC-designed tablet game in which players must swipe furiously to stop the puppy from dropping his bone into holes where it doesn’t belong. “We’re also working on some interactive skits where kids get to role-play calling up Raw Dog’s former partners after he tests positive for HIV.”
“After all, it’s just like Raw Dog always tells kids: ‘Don’t be like me, or your genitals will get ruff!’” Searle continued.
The campaign has been criticized by many Catholic and evangelical groups, who have demanded the CDC bring back its Reagan-era CelibaSea Lion character, who urged young girls to take chastity pledges and “never get wet” until marriage. Doubts have also been expressed by parents who normally support safe-sex education.
“I’m glad they’re teaching this stuff, but some of the materials give me pause,” said Greg Jensen, 43, a parent of a fourth-grader at Lincoln Elementary in Sioux Falls, SD where a pilot version of the campaign was conducted last year. “It’s just a little awkward when my kid comes home with a big stack of pamphlets showing the Hepatitis Bee saying ‘Zzz, watch out where you sit!’ or Raw Dog biting at his crotch while a bunch of little crabs pinch his hindquarters.”
He added, “Plus, at this age, I mostly just want my son to be learning about mouth and hand stuff.”