Realistic Baby dolls that cry
At South Gate High, teen-agers are lining up to have babies.
Students in a teen-age pregnancy prevention program--the only one of its kind in Los Angeles County--spend several days lugging around frighteningly lifelike baby dolls that wail at unpredictable intervals. The $220, computer-controlled "baby" with a recording of a newborn's cries cannot be quieted unless properly cuddled and "fed" by inserting a key into its monitoring device.
Yellow, red and green alarms light up on the doll's back if the teen-ager neglects or mishandles it. It usually takes 10 to 30 minutes to calm one of the five babies, a task some students undertake amid glares from classmates--and from boyfriends and relatives.
"This experiment made me not want to have a baby, until at least after high school, " said Renee Sierras, 15, cuddling the 10-pound, battery-packed doll she named Damien. "I'm not going to have sex until I'm married."
It was the same for Luane Martinez. One morning a groggy Martinez, 15, tried to "feed" her doll as it shrieked in the early morning, waking everyone in the house while she fumbled in the dark to find the keyhole on the doll's back. "My older brother said he was going to kill the baby if I didn't bring it back to school, " she said.
Jeannette Leyva, 17, took her baby to church choir practice and it started crying while she was singing. Unable to quiet it, she finally had to leave. "That was a doll, " she said. "Imagine a real baby."
That is precisely the notion counselors have in mind when they send students to the pregnancy prevention program who are considered at risk of becoming pregnant.
Several schools nationwide have used the anatomically correct Baby Think It Over dolls, manufactured by a San Diego company, since they appeared on the market last year. A handful of schools in Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties have ordered them.
Schools are turning to the computerized dolls at a time when teen-age pregnancy has become one of the most emotional elements in the national debate over growing federal welfare payments. About 90% of welfare money goes to fatherless families that most often started with unwed teen-age mothers. A state report last month said 15% of all California girls between 15 and 19 became pregnant in 1993, the latest year for which data was available. It also found that Latina teen-agers accounted for 60% of the 70, 000 statewide births to teen-age mothers that year.
These issues resonate strongly at South Gate High, where Latinos make up the majority of the 3, 500 students.
One out of every 10 girls gets pregnant each year at South Gate, "which is why something needed to be done, " said Sherry Ward, who heads the school's teen-age pregnancy prevention program.
Los Angeles Unified School District officials, who recently began compiling teen-age pregnancy statistics, say there are about 10, 000 teen-age pregnancies a year in the 650, 000-student district, with about half the mothers giving birth.
Ward said researchers believe that a high rate of teen-age pregnancy among Latinos could be attributed to a strict culture in which conversations about sex are often considered taboo. Research also indicates that two-thirds or more of teen-agers who become pregnant have previously been victims of sexual abuse.
Into these abstractions enters a screaming machine intended to make girls and their boyfriends take stock of what a baby really does. It's a world of difference from South Gate High's previous cautionary program, in which students carried a chicken egg for a week to simulate baby care.
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Like that "what would you do" show2011-04-01 07:55:38 by Dash_Dash_Dash
They're always filming around where I live (NYC suburbs). On one episode they put one of those realistic dolls in the backseat of a car on a hot day.
The worst was probably the one (filmed around the corner from the baby episode) where a couple of kids were harassing an old lady. It wouldn't take much for that to get out of control.
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