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What's Bugging You? Racy billboard ads

November 16, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
We see hundreds of billboards every day as we drive around the streets of Los Angeles, so many that they're almost a blur. But one caught the attention of an Eyewitness News viewer - an ad for lingerie positioned right next to a preschool.

Gina Boulanger, who is a teacher, says children have taken notice as well.

"The child said, 'Oh, mommy look, that lady is taking her panties off,'" Boulanger said. "The mom said, 'Oh, no, maybe she just went to the bathroom so she's pulling them down. The 4 year old said, 'No, I think she's pulling them down.'"

This made Boulanger wonder if there are any laws about putting such billboards next to schools or other places where young children might see them.

Dennis Hathaway is from a group called Ban Billboard Blight, which seeks to reduce the number of all billboards in public spaces. He says his group often gets complaints about racy ads near schools and churches.

"It's pretty well established that cities cannot control content in billboards. They have a constitutional right," Hathaway said. "Our feeling is, that doesn't mean they don't have a responsibility."

Boulanger worries about the images and the message it sends to young children.

"I found that children that are exposed to those types of images in movies and media, they tend to act out a lot more in a sexual way and expressing themselves in a way that's not age appropriate," she said.

It's a first amendment issue and legally these particular billboards can go up anywhere.

Billboard companies, however, do have policies.

"We are careful to place outdoor advertisements for products illegal for sale to minors on advertising displays that are a reasonable distance from the public places where children most frequently congregate," the Outdoor Advertising Association of America says.

We called the advertising company and when we checked a few days ago, the sign has been changed.

Hathaway says if you call them, advertisers listen.

"The one way people can make a difference with this is voting with their pocket books and just not buy those products," he said.

If it's bugging you, it's probably bugging other people too, so keep telling us about it.


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