Health students ask: where are the baby simulators we saw on television?

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High school is meant to prepare students for the realities of adulthood and the vast uncertainty of the future. While most classes focus on the academic aspects of life, health class shines a light on various beneficial life skills and lessons. In movies or on T.V., the stereotypical portrayal of a high school health class often includes a rather outdated sex ed class that stresses abstinence through the use of infant simulators. Whether students have to carry around an egg with a face drawn on it or an actual baby doll that cries and laughs, they are offered a mere glimpse into all the struggles that come with being a parent.

Infant simulators are most popularly seen in the form of baby dolls that must be kept an eye on at all times. They need to be burped, be put to sleep, have their diaper changed, and much more. Modern baby simulators will even record the actions of the caretaker and provide them with a score at the end of their trial. Their purpose is to educate students and have them realize that they are most certainly not ready for a child right now.

Many sophomores who are currently taking the health course believe that infant simulators would be a beneficial addition. “I feel like there aren’t enough classes that prepare us for life outside of school and I think this is a great place to start implementing lessons like these,” said sophomore Arianna Wilson. “Getting a feel for pregnancy and everything in between is beneficial to anybody… boy and girls… whether we have kids or not… whether teen pregnancy is prominent or not.”

Sophomore Samantha Colon believes spreading awareness and informing students about the effects of teen pregnancy, is a crucial part of the class. “I think teen pregnancy is not just a Townsend Harris problem, but a societal problem,” she said. “The more people that are aware of the consequences and responsibilities of teen pregnancies, the less teen pregnancies there will be.”

While spreading awareness about teen pregnancies is the main goal of infant simulators, some are not convinced its the proper way to go about doing so. Sophomore Ava Nabatkhoran said, “I don’t think the curriculum needs it because the job that the dolls are used for is to prevent teenage pregnancy and since there’s not a problem with that in the school, the dolls don’t have much use.”

At THHS, the health course is only offered for one semester during a student’s sophomore year. Due to this, it may be difficult to incorporate a week long project encompassing just infant simulators, which may also take time away from other important topics.

While baby simulators are currently not included in the THHS health class curriculum, Physical Education and health teacher Maria Assante assured that the school does have them in their possession. However, she explained that the dolls are not a part of the current curriculum as more pressing topics are relevant to the students of Townsend, saying, “While teen pregnancies may affect a considerable portion of students at other high schools, here in Townsend it’s more worthwhile to focus on mental health and dealing with stress.”

Health teacher and Physical Education teacher Jamal Bermudez added, “Health class is only half a school year, and so many things get cut to make room for more important topics.”

“What we cover really depends on the needs in the school,” concluded Ms. Assante. “That’s why we focus so much on mental health. Mental health is just a bigger issue here.”