Schools and communities have been assigning robot dolls to young women in order to convince them not to get pregnant, the idea being that a better sense of actually having a demanding little creature would be daunting.
It is unclear what about the program failed to stick, though researchers have a few ideas. Robot dolls leave teenage boys — i.e., would-be fathers — out of the equation, as University of Notre Dame, Australia, teen pregnancy expert Julie Quinlivan noted in a companion article at the Lancet. Nor, the clinician noted, is a robot doll an adequate simulator for an actual child.
“Anecdotally, a lot of the students really enjoyed the program,” study author Sally Brinkman, of Australia’s Telethon Kids Institute, told the Sydney Morning Herald. “There was a lot of positivity around the program, so it didn’t really work in putting the kids off.”
“We’ve had midnight telephone calls from parents saying: ‘Please tell me how to turn it off, my daughter’s going crazy,’” as Janette Collins, a London-based youth counselor said to the Financial Times last October. “It’s the very few girls who score really well that you have to look out for. In my experience they’re the ones who go off and get pregnant for real — you’ve accidentally taught them they can cope.”