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article imageAustralian teen pregnancy program had a reverse effect: Study

By Kesavan Unnikrishnan     Aug 27, 2016 in Health
An Australian program of giving away lifelike baby dolls that imitate a real baby to teach teen girls about the harsh realities of motherhood backfires as it found girls who took part were twice as likely to get pregnant than those who did not.
Under a Virtual Infant Parenting (VIP) program, more than 2800 girls aged 13 to 15 across 57 schools in Western Australia were given baby simulators and they were followed until the age of 20. The followup study found that those who did the program had higher rates of pregnancy (17 percent) compared to those who did not (11 percent). Similarly, only six per cent in the control group had an abortion, compared to nine per cent among normal teens.
Sally Brinkman of the University of Western Australia Telethon Kids Institute, which conducted the study says:
Possible factors include positive attention the girls received while looking after the robo-babies. Often the families of the girls would turn looking after the simulator into a family project, and some girls became quite attached to the simulators, to the point where the program managers considered bringing in counselor to help separate the girl from the robot. The dolls, which cost an estimated $1,320 each, are an ineffective use of public resources.
However, Timm Boettcher, President and CEO of Realtyworks, which distributes the dolls in more than 1500 schools in Australia, said that the program has been proven to be extremely effective in deterring teenage pregnancy when used in line with the instructional material provided. He said.
If anyone chooses to take a portion of our RealCare Baby Program, either the software, curriculum, or infant simulator and combine it with something else they developed to determine the effectiveness of this new program that just happens to use a portion of our product, it is their choice. However is not the same as using the product we sell in the way we provide it.
Australia has the sixth highest teen pregnancy rate in the developed World. In 2013, the birth rate among teenage women in Australia was 14.6 births per 1,000 women. The rate has fallen from 55.5 births per 1,000 women in 1971 due to availability of effective contraceptives.
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