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Lakewood Times

    Infant Simulators Deemed Ineffective

    Image of students with Infant Simulators courtesy of
    Image of students with Infant Simulators courtesy of

    The very convincing, very expensive baby dolls most of Lakewood High School is familiar with, whether they participated in the Early Childhood Development classes’ “Baby Think it Over” project or not, have recently come under fire for how effective they actually are at preventing teenage pregnancy.

    These dolls, or rather “Infant Simulators,” were marketed originally to schools across the nation in the hope that they would reduce teen pregnancy rates in the United States, who has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates for an industrialized nation.

    Believing that the Infant Simulators would dissuade young girls from becoming pregnant was not a far-fetched hope for schools in the US and the 89 other nations who jumped on the electronic baby doll bandwagon shortly after: the Infant Simulators are remarkably realistic.

    RealityWorks, the company who produces the dolls for the “Baby Think it Over” project, outfits each doll with fairly advanced computer technology. With this technology, the dolls’ schedules to cry, sleep, require feeding, burping, or changing are all formulated from the schedules of randomly selected newborns. The Infant Simulators as well contain a sensor that records whether or not a student attended to the child’s needs within the minutes the project’s guidelines requires them to, or if the student shook or mishandled the doll.

    Despite how elaborately the simulators are programmed, the weekend that most high schoolers are required to care for the doll appeared to have a result opposite of what was intended as Australian research journal, Lancet, found.

    Girls who participated in an Infant Simulator project or a program similar to it were actually found to be more likely to become pregnant before the age of twenty than their peers who did not care for one of these electronic infants.

    The study, headed by epidemiologist, Dr. Sally Brinkman, followed 2,800 girls in western Australia from ages 13 to 20. About half of the group of young women were involved in a variation of “Baby Think it Over.” The other half were not. The girls of the latter group were half as likely to become pregnant, with only 4% of them becoming pregnant before age 20. 8% of the Infant Simulator group in comparison had given birth at least once before they turned twenty.

    “Clearly, the program doesn’t work.” Brinkman concluded in an interview with CNN.

    As to what makes the program so surprisingly inefficient is unknown. Some reason that the students become attached to the fake infant in the weekend they tend to it, and that this may motivate them to have their own child. Others suggest that completing the project successfully gives teenage girls a warped idea of  how difficult caring for a child actually is.

    How the recent attention given to these conclusions will prove to affect Lakewood High’s own “Baby Think it Over” program is not able to be determined definitively at this time



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