by Stella Billek
When I was a freshman, I saw juniors carrying around their baby projects. Since then, I have been excited to become a flour baby parent myself.
Two years later, the anticipated week arrived. But within a day, I realized how little the project did to inform me about the lives of teen parents. Maybe it was when I saw my own child being kidnapped, or when I heard stories about babies being run over by cars. Nevertheless, it quickly became apparent that the project has room for improvement.
The silly attitude of many students toward the project leads them to take it less seriously than they should. When juniors are plotting the perfect strategy to avoid being spotted in the halls without their babies, you know something is wrong.
The sad thing is, it’s such an important topic. Compared to other developed nations, the United States has an alarmingly high rate of teen pregnancies. According to educationworld.com, U.S. teenagers have a pregnancy rate twice as high as Canada, three times as high as Sweden and nine times as high as the Netherlands. Health classes should remain focused on pregnancy-prevention projects as opposed to adding in an inaccurate depiction of the life of a teenage parent, as the former is more relevant to the lives of students.
Ultimately, teens’ sexual habits are their own choices, and there is only so much that classes can do to prevent pregnancy. However, the complexities of being a parent aren’t fully replicated in carrying around the flour baby, so other ways of teaching this lesson are needed. The Teen Prevention Education Program at North Hunterdon High School, for example, uses a “curriculum [in which] ‘teens teach teens’ and encourages students to understand the consequences of their actions,” according to the school’s site. While peer mentoring may not solve all of our problems, it may be a better approach than a sack of flour.
Health educators have our best interests at heart, and progress is being made: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the teenage birth rate has dropped 9 percent since 2013. But let’s face it: The baby project is outdated. My mom remembers her own project in high school. This generation has brought about so much innovation, and it shouldn’t stop there. It’s time to get innovative about the baby project.