Teenage pregnancy is an issue that is taking root in many regions around the world. A lot of teenagers experience difficulty later on in their lives as a result of becoming mothers while they are still young (Zhou, Ismajani & Abel, 2015). It is the reason why various individuals and groups come up each day with various measures that will help deal with teenage pregnancies. One of these measures is the infant simulator whose developers had the aim of exposing teenage girls to a real-life experience of caring for an infant in order to prevent them from getting pregnant while still teenagers. The paper, therefore, looks at the infant simulator program and how it is working or not working. It will also give evidence on how the program plays little or no role in reducing teenage pregnancies and preventing positive attitude towards teenage parenting.
The program proprietors aim was that all the responsibilities that come with taking care of the infant simulator as a real baby would keep these young girls away from getting pregnant while they were still teenagers. However, several studies conducted on the program give a different story. According to the available evidence, the program does not play the role it was expected to play. One of these studies is one that was carried out by Brinkman et al., (2016) indicates that this program is not working. The study was conducted among girls between thirteen and fifteen years and they were followed until they reached twenty years. The girls had the responsibility of taking care of infant simulators while the study observed the effect the responsibility of taking care of the simulators had on the participants. The results indicated that the participants in the experimental group recorded higher instances of pregnancies and abortions in the period the experiment took place compared to participants in the control group before they reached twenty years old (Brinkman et al., 2016).
There are however other researchers who believe that the program works as expected. One study showed that the teenagers opted to not get pregnant due to the experience they had while taking care of the simulators. The simulators came with responsibilities that were too much for the participants in the study to manage and thus many of them preferred to avoid getting pregnant to avoid all the work that came with taking care of a baby. The teenager explained that their memories of taking care of the infant simulator were still present in their minds a while after the experiment and many of them did not want to get pregnant at that particular time (Hillman, 2000).
Evidence indicates a number of reasons why the infant simulator programs failed. One is that the reaction expected from the teenage girls towards the responsibility that comes with taking care of the simulator is not what was portrayed by the participants. Many of the girls created an attachment with the simulator rather than being weighed down by the difficulties that came with parenting the simulators. Many of the studies that were in support of the program indicated that the girls could not take the stresses that came with taking care of the infant simulators (Herman, 2011). The computerized records indicated that some of them neglected the infant at a given point in time while others would expose the simulators to abuse. All this was as a result of the difficulties the individuals encountered as they took care of the simulators. However, those who do not support the study indicate in their studies that these teenagers developed a special attachment to the simulators despite the struggles and they were likely to get pregnant when they reached twenty years old.
The program may have worked especially in various environments and individuals. As Oringanje et al., (2016) indicate, many teenagers who are from poor backgrounds were most likely affected by the exposure to the infant simulators. Many of the teenagers had a special focus on their education due to the type of economic background they were from. They knew their education would help them get a better life and thus focused only on their education. An introduction of the simulators gave them more focus on their education and thus avoided getting pregnant.
However, other teenage girls wanted to experience the real feeling of parenting a child after getting the feeling of caring for the infant simulator. Due to the attachment they had created many of the girls wanted to get the real feeling of being mothers and thus many of them resorted to getting pregnant before they were twenty years old. Children are often viewed as part of an individual especially the mother (McCall et al., 2015). Therefore, by going through the experience of taking care of the infant simulators, the girls were drawn to the thought of getting a similar feeling from a child. Eventually, many of them got pregnant especially those who were exposed to the simulators. The desire to play the motherly function and not just to a simulator but to a baby than one had given birth to, was another reason that led to the failure of the infant simulator programs.
Research indicates other methods that may be useful in preventing teenage pregnancies including counseling and other self-help groups. It is evident that those who developed the infant simulators did not put into consideration these methods that were available. The simulators mainly focused on the connection between the teenager and the simulator. The more the girl interacted with it, the more she developed an attachment towards it (Malinowski & Stamler, 2003). She became emotionally drawn to caring for the simulator that she wanted to express the same on a child she bore. It is the reason why a significant percentage of the participants in the available experiments, later on, became pregnant or procured an abortion. The feeling of having an individual to love and care for became the push behind the desire in the teenagers which came just after their exposure to the infant simulators.
It is, therefore, precise that the infant simulators have not played the role that was expected even up to this point. A high amount of the available evidence shows that exposure to the infant simulator programs become the drive behind teenagers becoming pregnant. Despite other reasons playing a role, the infant simulators present a strong origin of the increasing cases of teenage pregnancies. It is a clear indication that the programs are not working as they were expected to and there need to be adjustments made to them. Other methods also need o come into play when addressing teenage pregnancies considering that it is an issue that is growing rapidly around the world.
Brinkman, S. A., Johnson, S. E., Codde, J. P., Hart, M. B., Straton, J. A., Mittinty, M. N., & Silburn, S. R. (2016). Efficacy of infant simulator programmes to prevent teenage pregnancy: a school-based cluster randomised controlled trial in Western Australia. The Lancet, 388(10057), 2264-2271.
Herrman, J. W., Waterhouse, J. K., & Chiquoine, J. (2011). Evaluation of an infant simulator intervention for teen pregnancy prevention. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing, 40(3), 322-328.
Hillman, C. B. (2000). The effectiveness of an Infant Simulator as a deterrent to teen pregnancy among middle school students (Doctoral dissertation, University of North Texas).
Malinowski, A., & Stamler, L. L. (2003). Adolescent girls personal experience with BABY THINK IT OVER infant simulator. MCN: The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing, 28(3), 205-211.
McCall, S. J., Bhattacharya, S., Okpo, E., & Macfarlane, G. J. (2015). Evaluating the social determinants of teenage pregnancy: a temporal analysis using a UK obstetric database from 1950 to 2010. Journal of epidemiology and community health, 69(1), 49-54.
Oringanje, C., Meremikwu, M. M., Eko, H., Esu, E., Meremikwu, A., & Ehiri, J. E. (2009). Interventions for preventing unintended pregnancies among adolescents. Cochrane Database Syst Rev, 4(4).
Zhou, Y., Puradiredja, D. I., & Abel, G. (2016). Truancy and teenage pregnancy in English adolescent girls: can we identify those at risk?. Journal of Public Health, 38(2), 323-329.
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