Maybe you've seen the "Rotten Banana" billboard hanging in the Hannibal area. It's kinda hard to miss really. It's a real conversation piece, which is both a good and a bad thing depending on the audience.

I think the billboard is self-explanatory, but it certainly depends on your audience. When I first drove past it with my nine-year-old, it sparked an enlightening conversation about banana bread. When I was with my 15-year-old daughter, all I got was, "Mom I don't want to talk about it, that's disgusting."

When I posted this picture to my Facebook page, 78 people commented o n it. Those over age 60 said it took awhile to decipher the meaning. I had one person who was seriously interested in purchasing these banana covers for fruit preservation.

The CHART Teen Task Force sponsors these billboards. CHART is non-profit group of adults encouraging teenagers to make responsible, informed decisions about their sexuality. In particular the goal is to cut down on teen pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. It's certainly a topic that needs to be addressed here, where 100 babies are born to teenage mothers in Northeast Missouri.

The point of this billboard is to start a conversation with your teenager. But the audience reaches far more than teens. I'm not a parent who avoids uncomfortable conversations with my children. However, this particular conversation is not one my third grader needs to hear quite yet. (And that's why we weighed the pros and cons of banana ripeness when you make bread.) On the other side of the spectrum, it's a terribly uncomfortable message when you're bringing your 80-year-old mother to the rheumatologist.

CHART has certainly sparked a conversation, one that is necessary for our teenagers. But is it the right venue? Would it be better in the hallways of middle and high schools? Is it exposing our younger children to concepts they don't need to know about yet? Is it too crass to pass this billboard on our way to our Catholic elementary school?

So what are your thoughts on the rotten banana? Take our poll and tell us what you think!

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