Thursday, November 20, 2008

Baby Think It Over

A fascinating new phenomenon has hit Australian schools. After several years of ‘success’ in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, a personal development program called Baby Think It Over has come to Australia and is fast making friends among parents and life skills educators in the high schools of our nation.

So what’s it all about and why is it so popular?

The star of Baby Think It Over is a battery operated, computerized doll, made to simulate a real baby. It cries randomly, wets its nappy, requires regular feeding, weighs as much as a 6 ½ pound baby, and even comes in an array of racial appearances, including Hispanic, Caucasian, Asian, African-American and Native-American.

Baby Think It Over (BTIO) is the creation of American couple, Rick and Mary Jurmain, who came up with the idea in 1993 while watching a program on high school sex education. Rick Jurmain seemed to think that a life-like baby would be more effective in preventing teen pregnancy than carrying around a sack of flour ( “Have a Baby? I Think I'll Think It Over”), and thus Baby was created.

Schools across America have reported significant drops in teen pregnancy since the mid-1990s and have attributed the BTIO program with this decline. Considering that the BTIO program was introduced in a bid to combat teen pregnancy, one might conclude that it has been an overall success. Unfortunately however, its effects don’t stop with the regression in the incidence of teen pregnancy.

Many teenagers today don’t know about the realities of child rearing, so the general idea of BTIO is to give these young people the experience of babies.

Sounds like a good idea…

But what about the underlying philosophy of BTIO? Is it to foster a desire to save sex for marriage? Is it to foster purity and chastity? A love for children? The desire for a large family? An appreciation for parenthood?

Sadly, no. The underlying philosophy of BTIO is somewhat the opposite.

It fosters an anti-child mentality and either by active promotion or simply by default, it advocates the concept and practice of contraceptive or ‘safe’ sex. Such misnomers are not uncommon in these days of word games, but rarely has a misnomer been responsible for such widespread moral, spiritual, emotional, physical and psychological destruction as has that of ‘safe’ sex.

One wonders how BTIO can show teens what parenting is really like when it leaves out all the wonderful aspects of parenthood. The BTIO baby can’t smile or say mummy. She can’t coo or do cute things or make exciting progress as human babies do. There is no bond between the teenager and the doll; as there is between a mother and father and their baby.

In reality, the BTIO program adds to the anti-life, anti-children and anti-marriage mentality that is already grossly present in so many Australian schools.

The following quotes from school students who have completed the BTIO program and from teachers who promote the program, summarise these attitudes fairly succinctly:

“Your social life and time to yourself just drops, and that was just for three days. You have to put your life on hold and just take care of another life." (Student:, “Baby Helps Teens Think It Over” by Sharon Cromwell)

“Everyone wants to take 'em [the babies] home, but nobody wants to keep 'em." (Teacher: Cromwell)

“Yeah, babies are cute, but they’re a pain in the neck!” (Student: personal communication, 19-05-06)

““I don’t think I’d want any more than one!” (Student: personal communication, 19-05-06)

““She had BTIO for 5 days and by the 4th day she was writing in her diary how much she did not like the baby and that she was not going to have a baby until she was in her 30’s if ever.” (Mother of a 13-year-old, speaking about her daughter’s experience: Cromwell)

“We have kids begging to take the Baby home on Friday, but they sure are glad to bring it back Monday morning.” (Guidance Counselor: Cromwell)

The BTIO program may prevent teen pregnancy, but it does so in entirely the wrong way. Rather than preventing teen pregnancy in a positive manner, it promotes contraceptive sex by creating a repugnance for parenthood and an antipathy towards children.

© Eva Whiteley 2008

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