Wanna have a kid, kid? Baby Think It Over will make you think twice. . . On a May evening in 1993, Richard and Mary Jurmain watched a television documentary on teenage pregnancy. The camera followed students who were given bags of flour or eggs to carry around for several days. The idea was to teach teenagers how delicate infants are and how much care they require. The implied moral: Young people should think long and hard before becoming parents.
. . . Why not try to produce a realistic doll to teach teenagers about the responsibilities of parenting? . . . Jurmain produced his prototype doll. It weighed 6 pounds 8 ounces, measured 20½ inches long, and wailed like a real infant. He named the product Baby Think It Over.
Baby Think It Over dolls are usually assigned to students in a high school home economics or health class for a few days. Increasingly, teachers are introducing the dolls into junior high classrooms. The doll comes in white, black, Hispanic and Asian versions, and both sexes. The Jurmains also sell a "crack baby" model that simulates the violent shaking and incessant crying of a baby born dependent on drugs because the mother used them during pregnancy. The crack baby dolls are especially difficult to soothe.
Teachers say that a few students have stabbed their dolls, hurled them out of windows and ripped the electronic circuitry out in order to quiet the crying. These students flunk the assignment, of course, and are usually recommended for counseling.
Rick Jurmain updated the circuitry of the doll this fall so that a digital readout can now tell a teacher how much abuse—rough shaking, say, or dropping—the doll suffered . . . Jurmain says he's found a way to make the next generation of dolls wet.