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RHS students get a taste of unplanned parenthood

By Staff
Melissa Cason
Franklin County Times
Human Development students at Russellville High School are getting a taste of parenthood, as they are required to become a parent for weekend by using a life-like doll.
Teacher Cindy Coan said that each Human Development student is required to take the doll home and care for it as if were an actual baby.
"The experience is very eye-opening for the students," Coan said "It gives them a taste of what it is like caring for a baby by themselves."
The baby has to be cared for just like a real baby. It cries, and has to be held until it stops.
"My baby cried at 2 a.m., at 4 a.m. and then again at 7 a.m., 8 a.m. and 9 a.m.," student Jasmine Gholston said.
Gholston added having the baby really made her think about having a baby before she is ready.
Coan said she and the students talk about what it would be like to have a baby on their own.
"I know this not something that I would want to do alone," Gholston said.
Students often have a difficult time caring for the baby, which could also mean taking time off from their part-time jobs while they tend to their child.
Coan said most employers are supportive of the program and glady give students the needed time off to deal with their new responibilities.
While employers may be supportive of the project, students have also found that the public is not always accepting of teen parents.
Stacy Garner and Katie Sutter both said they were treated differently because they were carrying a baby.
Sutter said that a lady followed her around a store before asking her if the baby was real.
"She came up to me and asked if it was a real baby," Sutter said. "When I said no, she said 'thank goodness, I thought you were one of those teenagers with a baby.'"
Garner said that she was followed around the mall but once she explained the class to those who questioned her, they wanted to hold and play with the baby.
The babies, Coan said, have definitely made an impact on the students, adding that she feels students may think twice before engaging in sexual activity – or at least take the necessary precautions to prevent pregnancy.
"I teach abstinence in the classroom," Coan said. "I hope the experience with the babies will be in the back of their minds if they find themselves in the heat of the moment."
The dolls have been a part of the Human Development curriculum for about 10 years, and are seen as a beneficial tool in the classroom.
"The technology has changed in the dolls," Coan said. "The newer dolls require much more attention from the students."

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