Teenagers at a Harrogate school come face-to-face with the realities of pregnancy

A baby simulator is part of the Rossett School programme for 13 to 18-year-olds, giving youngsters an insight into what it’s like to care for an infant.

Although they will have parental guidance themselves, the simulator can be programmed to behave like a real baby, crying at night to be fed and demanding their full attention during the day.

Students Tania Nelson, Kim Hutchinson, Katie Ives, Toni Harris and Libby Wilson with the Baby Think It Over simulator

The Baby Think It Over initiative also includes sessions in relationships, health and the risks of sexually transmitted illnesses.

“We work with the students in small groups with each given an opportunity to take the simulator home – as long as their family agrees,” said Rossett School’s Malcolm Howe.

“Once they’ve had a taste of the responsibilities involved, the can make an informed choice about their own future – and by far the majority have no intention of becoming a teenage mum or dad. Not only that, but their experience is passed on and can influence other students facing important life choices.”

The Baby Think It Over initiative was founded in America in 1993, the brainchild of a former aviation technician made redundant and looking for an alternative source of income.

The simulator can be programmed to “cry” at different intervals and will only stop once the student has inserted a key for a set period of time to mirror a parental role such as feeding, changing a nappy, bathing or comforting a sick child. In some areas where it has been introduced, teenage pregnancy rates have fallen by 50 per cent.