FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Thinking Over Baby Think It Over

by

It’s 3:30 a.m.  We wake to sounds of a crying baby, coming from our son’s bedroom. But our son is 15. Is it the ghost of Infancy Past? No, it’s part of a school  sex education experiment. Our son’s robotic baby has erupted in the middle of the night to demonstrate the “joys” of teen parenthood.

But the “baby” cries on, insistently, with no response from our son, though they are sharing the same bed. We have to get up and rouse him from his deep sleep. It turns out the baby had already awakened him by crying at 1 a.m. And now he is too exhausted to respond again without an extra prompt. Unfortunately, in just a few hours our son will have to get ready for school, despite his restless night. Is this a lesson he is meant to learn?

Our son’s school has signed on to a program called Baby Think It Over, meant to demonstrate to tenth graders how the responsibilities of child care may impinge on their carefree teenage pleasures. Student “parents” are fitted out with electronic bracelets to ensure that only they can offer the care their robotic babies need, whether it is a bottle or a hug or a diaper change.

One unfortunate result of this exercise is the negative reaction some caregivers have to their robotic charges. Some students see these baby dolls only as a hassle. They feel no warmth or emotional attachment to this computerized plastic construction. It is not, after all, flesh of their flesh or the product of their love. Just a school assignment, somewhat stranger than most.

According to a 2016 study reported in Australian media: “The virtual infants made by company Realityworks are used in around 2,000 schools in Australia, 67 per cent of schools in the US and in 40,000 institutions in 89 other countries in a bid to deter teenage girls from getting pregnant.

“The doll reports on mishandling, crying time, the number of nappy changes and general care…”

Dr. Sally Brinkman of the Telethon Kids Institute, who studied the effects of the program, as reported in the medical journal, Lancet, reported that: “Some of the teenagers locked the baby on a garden shed, others used blue-tac to stifle the microphone and some parents called in to ask how it could be turned off. However, most of the girls became very attached to the robot and some did not want to hand it back.”

The biggest problem with Baby Think It Over (now renamed RealCare Baby) is that “the infant simulators do not reduce the risk of pregnancy in teenage girls.

“In fact, the risk of pregnancy is actually increased compared to girls who didn’t take part in the intervention,” said Dr Brinkman.

Why using the electronic dolls should promote rather than prevent teen pregnancy is a matter of speculation. Some students said they thought caring for a “real baby” would be easier than caring for a doll. Some researchers hypothesize that students enjoyed their simulated parenthood more than anyone might have anticipated.

Whatever the reasons, studies as early as 2001 by the National Institutes of Mental Health showed that using electronic dolls to deter teen pregnancy was ineffective, and in fact, counter-productive. Our son, who began by treating his plastic charge dismissively, finally warmed to the task and was over time more solicitous of the doll’s welfare, even as he multitasked, feeding and rocking the baby while he finished his homework.

The real question is, with various reputable studies showing that Baby Think It Over may not only be futile, but may in fact actually promote teen pregnancy, why do schools continue to go to the considerable trouble and expense of participating in that well-meaning but misguided program?

Notes.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/10699132/?i=4&from=/11393931/related

http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/parenting/pregnancy/baby-simulators-meant-to-deter-teenage-pregnancies-actually-increase-the-chances/news-story/507e8a58ce43c46254570c4cd33c0210

https://www.wsj.com/articles/robot-babies-not-effective-birth-control-australian-study-finds-1472196507

More articles by:

James McEnteer’s most recent book is Acting Like It Matters: John Malpede and the Los Angeles Poverty DepartmentHe lives in Quito, Ecuador.

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 26, 2017
William Hawes – Jason Holland
Lies That Capitalists Tell Us
Chairman Brandon Sazue
Out of the Shadow of Custer: Zinke Proves He’s No “Champion” of Indian Country With his Grizzly Lies
Patrick Cockburn
Grenfell Tower: the Tragic Price of the Rolled-Back Stat
Joseph Mangano
Tritium: Toxic Tip of the Nuclear Iceberg
Ray McGovern
Hersh’s Big Scoop: Bad Intel Behind Trump’s Syria Attack
Roy Eidelson
Heart of Darkness: Observations on a Torture Notebook
Geoff Beckman
Why Democrats Lose: the Case of Jon Ossoff
Matthew Stevenson
Travels Around Trump’s America
David Macaray
Law Enforcement’s Dirty Little Secret
Colin Todhunter
Future Shock: Imagining India
Yoav Litvin
Animals at the Roger Waters Concert
Binoy Kampmark
Pride in San Francisco
Stansfield Smith
North Koreans in South Korea Face Imprisonment for Wanting to Return Home
Hamid Yazdan Panah
Remembering Native American Civil Rights Pioneer, Lehman Brightman
James Porteous
Seventeen-Year-Old Nabra Hassanen Was Murdered
Weekend Edition
June 23, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Democrats in the Dead Zone
Gary Leupp
Trump, Qatar and the Danger of Total Confusion
Andrew Levine
The “Democracies” We Deserve
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
The FBI’s “Operation Backfire” and the Case of Briana Waters
Rob Urie
Cannibal Corpse
Joseph G. Ramsey
Savage Calculations: On the Exoneration of Philando Castile’s Killer
John Wight
Trump’s Attack on Cuba
Dave Lindorff
We Need a Mass Movement to Demand Radical Progressive Change
Brian Cloughley
Moving Closer to Doom
David Rosen
The Sex Offender: the 21st Century Witch
John Feffer
All Signs Point to Trump’s Coming War With Iran
Jennifer L. Lieberman
What’s Really New About the Gig Economy?
Pete Dolack
Analyzing the Failures of Syriza
Vijay Prashad
The Russian Nexus
Mike Whitney
Putin Tries to Avoid a Wider War With the US
Gregory Barrett
“Realpolitik” in Berlin: Merkel Fawns Over Kissinger
Louis Yako
The Road to Understanding Syria Goes Through Iraq
Graham Peebles
Grenfell Tower: A Disaster Waiting to Happen
Ezra Rosser
The Poverty State of Mind and the State’s Obligations to the Poor
Ron Jacobs
Andrew Jackson and the American Psyche
Pepe Escobar
Fear and Loathing on the Afghan Silk Road
Andre Vltchek
Why I Reject Western Courts and Justice
Lawrence Davidson
On Hidden Cultural Corruptors
Christopher Brauchli
The Routinization of Mass Shootings in America
Missy Comley Beattie
The Poor Need Not Apply
Martin Billheimer
White Man’s Country and the Iron Room
Joseph Natoli
What to Wonder Now
Tom Clifford
Hong Kong: the Chinese Meant Business
Thomas Knapp
The Castile Doctrine: Cops Without Consequences
Nyla Ali Khan
Borders Versus Memory
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail