Teaching Teens The Responsibility of Parenthood

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) -- The story of an alleged pregnancy pact by almost 20 Massachusetts teen girls resonated with parents nationwide.

Officials in that small Massachusetts town now say the pact may never have existed: nevertheless, it's putting teen pregnancy in the spotlight.

While the vast responsibility of parenthood, especially as a teen, isn't really known until someone becomes a parent....there is a resource some local teachers use to provide some insight.

"It is a very real, life like simulation for the students," said Valley View teacher, Jennifer Wray.

Jennifer Wray teaches Parenting and Child Development.

It's an elective course at Valley View High School.

She uses a doll as part of her class curriculum.

"They are the sole care provider for this infant," said Wray.

It's as close to a real baby as you can get. It has to be fed, changed, rocked and cared for just as you would a real child.

"I've had students tell me they've had to stop on the side of the road to feed the baby...change the baby," said Wray.

Teens in the class are assigned a doll for an extended amount of time, and at the end of the assignment, Jennifer can tell how the teens cared for the child by sensors inside the doll.

"Many of them have come back and they have said I knew it would be hard, but I didn't understand how hard this was actually going to be," said Wray.

That's essentially the goal of the project, to show the huge responsibility of parenthood.

"I would like to think that when they're in a situation where they have to make that choice as to go down a positive road or a negative road, that they would have images of this infant," said Wray.

Jennifer Wray says that the parents of her students are often times very supportive of the project.

She hopes it will open the lines of communication between parents and children.

It's also a lesson Jennifer hopes sticks with the students.

"I do stress with them that if they do end up having a child, it's not just the weekend and they can't bring it back to me, it's a lifetime event," said Wray.

Jennifer also makes her students talk with hospitals and price items like diapers and medicine to get an idea of just how big of a financial responsibility children are.