Home / Fall 2016 / Infant simulators are an ineffective and outdated scare tatic

Infant simulators are an ineffective and outdated scare tatic

Photo Illustration: Kayla Stroud/THE SPECTATOR

Written by Julia Rodriquez, Opinions Editor

Infant simulators that are used to prevent teen pregnancy may actually be causing it. Schools should just stop using them.

These simulators mimic live babies in both looks and maintenance. The doll will cry until a key representing a feeding, diaper change, or other form of care is inserted into the back. The doll will also sense when it had been shaken or held incorrectly and take record of it for the teacher to inspect.

The purpose of these dolls is to show teenagers the time and effort it takes to care for a child in order to discourage them from having intercourse or becoming a teen parent. However, according to the Seattle Times, a study has shown these babies may actually be increasing the rate of pregnancy in teens.

The seemingly obvious solution to this problem would be to remove baby simulators from the curriculum but that has not been done. It is likely that schools fear that removing preventative steps from the parenting courses will result in backlash from the angry parents of pregnant teens. It’s easy to try and place the blame on anyone but your child, but parents and schools alike need to face the fact that pregnancy happens when teens have sex–generally when they haven’t been taught about safety precautions.

Sure, a fake baby may prove to a teen that they don’t want a child, but it does not address their desire for sex.  Most sexually active teens aren’t aiming for parenthood in the first place. Maybe the real issue is that schools are trying to scare kids out of having sex, instead of teaching them how to do it safely.

This is not to say abstinence is not an option.  Abstinence is the most effective way to prevent pregnancy and the contraction of STD’s. However, just using scare tactics or telling kids to be abstinent, won’t stop all teen intercourse.  All it does is keep sexually active teens from knowing how to protect themselves.

Don’t think its true that only teaching abstinence puts kids at risk?  Look at the data.  Advocates for youth reported a study that showed abstinence-only schools, “showed some negative impacts on youth’s willingness to use contraception, including condoms, to prevent negative sexual health outcomes related to sexual intercourse.” Again, abstinence is a great option, but it’s not the only option.

Schools need to end the use of scare tactics like the infant simulator, and start teaching about safe sex options if they ever want to significantly decrease the rate of teen pregnancy.



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One comment

  1. The Lancet’s study is not a representation of our curriculum and simulator learning modality but the researchers’ “adaptation” and is consequently not reflective of our product nor its efficacy. The RealCare Baby® Program is a combination of curriculum and hands-on aids, and if it is being tested and judged for effectiveness, it should be judged in its entirety. The “adaptation” used in the study was developed by Australia’s Swan Hills Division of General Practice, the Coastal and Wheatbelt Public Health Unit and the North Metropolitan Population Health Unit. The class time designated for teaching the adaptation was a mere 2.5 hours. The RealCare Program is 14 hours of class time, learning activities and a prolonged take-home simulator experience. This study is not measuring Realityworks’ program and infant simulator but – as stated in the study – is investigating the effect of Australia’s Virtual Infant Parenting program.

    Coincidentally, during the times of this study, Australia had implemented a “Baby Bonus Maternity Payment” with the hopes of increasing the country’s fertility rates. A lump sum was paid to families following the birth of a child. They deemed this program successful with a 12.8% increase of births to mothers ages 20-24 years; they also saw that the program served as an incentive for mothers in their early twenties. 

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