Thursday, April 05, 2007

An Immodest Proposal

Dear Indigna,

Our local high school participates in a "teen pregnancy prevention program" that provides girls--but not boys, of course--with an animatronic "baby" that cries, spits up, poops and pees, and generally acts alarmingly like a real baby, while recording how the "mom" responds to it. The girls are instructed to care for the child for a week or so, and are "graded" on their quality of care.

Putting aside the fact that this program teaches boys that they are completely off the hook, here's my problem with it: recently one of these teens had an accident on the freeway because her "baby" started "crying" while she was driving, leading her to drive off the road or just abandon the wheel and turn around or something of the sort. In another instance, a teenager with one of these "babies" disrupted a ballet performance that cost my husband and me $100 a ticket (no doubt the reason the teen and her mother (!!) failed to leave the performance)! We've also been traumatized in movie theaters by these "babies" whose "mothers" feel absolutely no obligation to leave the premises to "comfort" the little plastic monsters.

Are these programs even effective? What can be done to replace them with a program that does not make everyone in the vicinity suffer from the incompetence of the teen "mother," who, without the benefit of hormones, instinct, or any real consequences obviously has no motivation to act "motherly"?

Enraged Grandma
Cranks, KY

Dear Granny,

The obvious solution is sitting right there in front of you! It's both more effective and more economical than the undoubtedly astronomically expensive "babies" that are currently used. Listen, aren't a lot of babies abandoned each year? Give those babies out to teens (girls and boys) to nurture--for, say, six months or so. That will give the teens the real world experience of chronic diarrhea, colic, seizures from cocaine withdrawal, dropping out of school, and applying for welfare. I predict a 100% graduation rate for these teens once the babies are relinquished to foster parents who will care even less about them.

If sufficient numbers of abandoned babies are not available, hold all-night alcohol-fueled raves at the high school. Combined with "abstinence-only" sex ed, this should result in a greatly increased supply of babies, which can then be requisitioned to provide important "abstinence" lessons to the student body.

Foster care too crowded? Too many babies have "aged out"? I have a suggestion that can provide a much-needed revenue stream for cash-strapped public school districts. Did you know that there is an active market for babies in many countries, both for children or spare parts? For more suggestions, see Jonathan Swift's definitive essay, "A Modest Proposal."


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