Researchers tracked girls in 57 schools in Western Australia, from ages 13 to 15 until 20, through hospital medical and abortion clinic records. Among the 2,800 girls who participated in the study from 2003 to 2006, 1,200 were randomly assigned to participate in baby simulator programs, while the rest underwent the standard pregnancy prevention curriculum.
Baby simulator programs, designed to teach teenage girls how difficult it is to take care of a baby and deter them from getting pregnant, may actually backfire.
The simulator program, called Virtual Infant Parenting, is an adaptation of the American Baby Think It Over program, created by Realityworks. The VIP program consists of workbooks, documentary viewing, four educational sessions and caring for interactive baby dolls over the weekend, from Friday afternoon to Monday morning.
The fake baby cries when it needs be fed, burped, rocked or changed and tracks mishandling and how well the doll is cared for. At the time of the study, each doll cost about $1,200 Australian, equivalent to about $900 US.