Can You Deter Teenage Pregnancies Using Lifelike Baby Dolls?
Teenage pregnancy has become a focal point for many, which can be attributed to how young some teenagers are becoming pregnant.
When it comes to deterring such pregnancies, many will have their own point-of-view as to what the right approach is.
One approach has been to teach teenagers of the responsibilities involved in relation to raising a child, and quite often, a lifelike baby doll is a representation of this.
The doll will cry to be fed and changed at unsociable hours, just like a real baby, with a view to teaching teenagers how much work it can be to raise a child, even in the first couple of years.
Many would be forgiven for thinking that such an approach would be effective, and while this be the case in some instances, it transpires that as a whole, the use of virtual dolls is not as effective as first thought.
The information that realistic baby dolls are failing to discourage teenage pregnancy was unveiled as part of an Australian study.
The carried out by researchers from several institutions, which included the University of Notre Dame, the University of Western Australia and the University of Adelaide, Australia.
- Funding for the research was provided by the following institutions.
- Lotteries WA
- The Western Australian Department of Education and Training
- The Western Australian Department of Health
- The Health Promotion Research Foundation of Western Australia
The research saw 57 schools in Perth, Australia enrol in the trial with 28 schools receiving standard health education curriculum, and the other 28 receiving the Virtual Infant Parenting programme.
All participants were selected at random.
The total participants for the standard health education curriculum and the VIP programme were 1,567 and 1,267 respectively.
Both interventions were administered to teenage girls aged between 13 and 15 years old and took place between 2003 and 2006.
As well as being given a realistic doll to care for, the teenage girls also took part in sessions that probed further into the ramifications of having children at an early age, such as the financial aspects.
Information surrounding contraception was also focused on.
The girls who took part in both studies were analysed up to the age of 20, which was possible using links to hospital and abortion clinic records.
To ensure that the data being garnered was correct, several cofounders were adjusted, including the following:
- Family Type
- Whether the Girl Was a Virgin
- Whether the Girl Smoked
- Educational Attainment
- Whether They Had Cared for a Baby Before
The basic outcome of the research showed that the group who had receive the standard health education curriculum were less likely to get pregnant when compared to those who has taken part in the VIP programme.
Authors of the study stated that 8 percent of the girls in the VIP programme had given birth at least once, and 9 percent had an abortion.
Those who received the standard health education curriculum showed that only 4 percent of participants had given birth, and percent had an abortion.
One of the reasons cited for the results, is the feeling that some girls may enjoy the attention they receive when caring for the doll and want to emulate this feeling later on in life.
Day in the Life with A Reborn Doll
Of course, there can be factors that mean the outcome may be different within a different lifestyle or culture, but for the most part, it seems that maybe more should be invested into sex educations, as opposed to replicas of new-born babies.
A similar viewpoint was shared in the United Kingdom by Nicole Chavaudra, a teenage pregnancy strategy co-ordinator based in Rotherham, who feels that these silicone baby dolls lack the emotional factors associated with a real-life child.
The VIP programme itself was adapted from the “Baby Think It Over” campaign in the USA, with the dolls being provided by Realityworks.
CEO Timmothy Boettcher argued that the dolls were effective in deterring teenage pregnancies, and that the researchers didn’t follow the company curriculum.