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Thursday, May 3, 2012


Tough child’s play


04 May, 2012 04:00 AM
A group of students at Duval High School have had their eyes opened to the gritty reality of teenage parenthood through a course featuring lifelike baby dolls. Year 12 student Georgia-May Dunlop was stunned and upset by the stares and negative comments she attracted when she ventured out in public with the robotic doll.
“It’s challenging because I had to change her nappy in a carpark and was getting death stares from people,” she said.
“One woman was walking past me and whispered ‘slut’ as she went past, she didn’t even check to see if it was real.
“It upset me that they didn’t even know and I found it really judgmental, because even if it was a real baby, it’s still not fair.”
Fellow class member Maddie Horneyman said she found it interesting to gain an insight into stigma experienced by teenage parents.
“It’s really good to see the social reactions because when she’s wrapped up and you’re holding her, people don’t know that it’s a school project so you get called these names walking down the street or you get glares from people,” Maddie said.
“I had a few people talk to my parents when I had her. They saw me downtown with her and they went and spoke to my parents and said that I needed to be kept under control, that I had behavioural issues and should see go see counselling and that they’re bad parents and that kind of thing.”
Teacher Jenine Russoniello said students in her community and family studies class each take care of the doll for three nights and also bring it to school or organise babysitting.
“It’s meant to be like a real-life situation,” she said.
The doll, which weighs the same as an average newborn baby, needs regular feeding, nappy changes, burping and general attention.
Georgia-May said she found caring for the doll also provided her with a good educational experience into the practical side of parenting.
“I woke up six times last night, which was not fun and I guess the effect of that on my schoolwork is that I can’t concentrate and I get short with people because I’m tired,” she said.

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