Whenever I teach in middle school, it’s not unusual to see girls with babies. Not real babies (thankfully), but realistic dolls that mimic a child’s needs. Their job is to care for this doll as if it was alive, including middle-of-the-night demands. I don’t know how long the assignment lasts, but it’s a mandatory part of Health class. In keeping with my manly image, I’ve never discussed this with any of the students, but I did hear one girl in the hallway exclaim to a friend, “Oh, you got your baby. You’re gonna hate it.”
Silly me, I always thought that was the intent — if girls knew how demanding having a baby was, they’d think about six times before taking a chance on getting pregnant, hence the program title “Baby Think It Over”. But there is a powerful (and favorite) natural phenomenon called “The Law of Untended Consequences” that seems to be working here — the latest research seems to suggest the opposite may be happening.
There is a new study from Australia in the medical journal The Lancet that found “The infant simulator-based VIP programme did not achieve its aim of reducing teenage pregnancy. Girls in the intervention group were more likely to experience a birth or an induced abortion than those in the control group before they reached 20 years of age.” The study’s abstract can be found at http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(16)30384-1/abstract
Of course some girls did hate the experience, to the point of hiding their pseudo-child as far away as possible. But many seemed to enjoy it. Because of the attention it brought them? (Who can’t resist cuddling a baby, even if it’s plastic?) Because it triggered latent maternal instincts?
I’m sure this will trigger more study. In the meantime, the lesson for me is don’t mess with the Law of Unintended Consequences.
The picture is from Google Images.