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Friday, May 6, 2016

Baby simulators give GHS students a tough dose of reality

Thursday, December 10, 2009

(Photo)
Front, Teacher LaVonne Dodson, Casey Massengale, Katlin Pierce, Callie Sanders, Sarah Fenwick and Jesse Billings. Back, Vice Principal Russ Hesler, Emily Crawley, Katie Stewart, Tim Bookwalter, Molli Parker, Erynn Beck, Kelsey Vermillion and Rodney Ford. [Order this photo]
GREENCASTLE -- For five Greencastle High School students, this past weekend was not all fun and games.

As part of a class assignment in their child development class, students had to take their new, realistic looking and acting babies home and care for them.

The infant simulators allowed students to view caring for an infant in a more realistic way. Students took their babies home for four days and nights.

Each baby is programmed with a schedule similar to a real life infant. They require feeding, burping, changing and rocking.

"Students learn to consider their current suitability to become parents and gain a greater appreciation for their own parents," said child development teacher LaVonne Dodson.

Teaching how pregnancy occurs is something that can be covered in a book, but it is a lot more difficult to explain to teens what is means to be responsible for the care of an infant -- and what it feels like to live with that responsibility on a daily basis.

Each student is sent home with a custom-designed baby that looks, weighs and sounds like a typical 3-month old infant. Each comes complete with a car seat, birth certificate and computerized chip built into its back that causes the baby to cry out for attention every two to three hours.

"How realistic they are is just unbelievable," said GHS Vice Principal Russ Hesler.

The students agreed.

"It woke me up during my snooze time," said Katlin Pierce. "It wasn't that we got no sleep, it just woke me up every couple of hours for 20 minutes or so and cramped my style."

Pierce had to find a babysitter for part of the time over the weekend because she is a cheerleader. She also took the baby to the tanning salon when she couldn't find a sitter.

"They let me bring it in since it wasn't real," she said. "I just set it on a stool while I tanned. It didn't cry or anything."

Callie Sanders took her baby to church where she works in the nursery.

"It wasn't too bad," she said with a smile. "I work in the nursery once a month anyway so I just switched. I've had it since Thursday. It wasn't too bad."

Sarah Fenwick took her baby shopping to Plainfield over the weekend.

"I didn't make it scream but it wasn't fun," she said.

Pierce claims she had to beg people to babysit for her. She took it to Marvin's Restaurant after the ballgame Saturday.

"It was so loud in there, I couldn't hear it cry," she said.

Putnam County Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter provided money for the purchase of the babies from the Pretrial Diversion fund.

"I'm not just the prosecutor," said Bookwalter. "I'm here to promote education as well. We have a problem with teenage pregnancies in the county. All the schools in the county will get to use these babies."

Hesler is hoping that Bookwalter will be able to kick in some additional funds for the purchase of more of the lifelike babies in the future.

"It's such a good way to get kids to see what their lives could be like," Hesler said. "I had kids at 31 and I'm not sure I was ready even then."

According to the U.S. Health Department, each year nearly 1 million teenagers in the United States -- approximately 10 percent of all 15- to 19-year-old females -- become pregnant.

About one third of these teens abort their pregnancies, 14 percent miscarry, and 52 percent bear children -- 72 percent of them out of wedlock.

More than 40 percent of women in the United States become pregnant before they reach 20 years of age and six in 10 teen pregnancies occur among 18- to 19-year-olds.

U.S. teenagers have one of the highest pregnancy rates in the Western world -- twice as high as rates found in England, France and Canada, three times as high as that in Sweden and seven times as high as the Dutch rate.

Schools are working hard with community members and organizations to stop the number of teenage pregnancies occurring.

"In the past similar projects were conducted with raw eggs or flour sacks," said Hesler. "Using the infant simulators makes it much more believable."

For those less-vigilant practice parents, their dolls may well tell the story for them.

When the student turns in the baby at the end of his or her four-day stint, a computer record can be pulled up to determine whether the babies have been abused or neglected. 


The GHS child development class received five infant simulators -- a drug addicted mother infant, fetal alcohol syndrome and shaken baby syndrome demonstration babies. The babies will also be used in the school's health classes.

"The shaken baby has a clear head on it," said Dodson. "When it is shaken, lights go off and students can see where the babies brain is being injured."

The fetal alcohol baby seems lethargic and has some of the features of those of a real baby with the syndrome.

This week, five more students will have parental responsibilities given to them. All the students agreed they did not want children for a long time.

Some even claimed they might never want them after this experience.

"It really cramps your lifestyle," said Pierce.


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Way to go Bookwalter -- This is awesome!

-- Posted by BG-reader on Thu, Dec 10, 2009, at 9:11 AM

This should prove to be an eye-opening challenge for these Tiger Cubs. Mr. Hesler is to be commended for providing his support. Best of luck with this beginning. Now, maybe they should have to care for a teenager for a weekend and report back to ALL of the teaching staff how easy it was.

-- Posted by Fargo Bill on Thu, Dec 10, 2009, at 8:28 PM

I commend all those involved for this program.

However, with all the ways to prevent pregrancy, i find it difficult to understand why so many young people are becoming pregnant.

Who has the answer.....readers let us hear from you.

-- Posted by mothersue on Thu, Dec 10, 2009, at 10:46 PM

MUCH MORE EFFECTIVE THAN THE "TAKE HOME AN EGG" FOR A BABY THAT I HAD DO WHEN I WAS IN HIGH SCHOOL!!!

-- Posted by C'ville friend on Fri, Dec 11, 2009, at 8:34 AM

i must admit, seeing some of my close friends walking around with babies in their arms, is like getting smacked upside the face with a huge samon! oh myy, the effect it has is crazy!

-- Posted by running_from_you on Wed, Mar 10, 2010, at 9:49 AM

...mothersue, you had to take home an egg? GROSS!

-- Posted by running_from_you on Wed, Mar 10, 2010, at 9:50 AM

I had to take one of these babies home when I was in 8th grade at GMS for Mrs. Bee's Home Ec. class. She had a "crack baby" that cried nearly non-stop and shook really bad when it did. When I took mine home, my dad made me put it out on the front porch while I got ready for school (he worked nights and was trying to sleep), so my grandma who was staying with us at the time snuck out there and I walked out to see her rocking it, saying "Shhh little baby, it'll be ok." She had no clue that there was a key that needed to be put in its back and held there to make it stop crying-which mine was broken! Mrs. Bee was sweet enough to let me redo the assignment, and I went and stayed with a friend the entire time. We didn't have car seats though! And boy, the looks I got taking it to the football game! (by the way, I was pregnant at 17, and had him when 18. However, having my son straightened my life up and made me get away from some bad things that was going on in my life because i didn't want that life for my child. Sometimes children at that age are a blessing.)

-- Posted by jm46135 on Thu, Mar 11, 2010, at 4:57 PM

This is really a great and interesting story and from here one can think that how difficult is to care a baby and this good that this task has been assigned to these teenagers since they must have learnt many things from these training

-- Posted by daceymathers on Thu, Jul 21, 2011, at 8:27 AM


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