My oldest daughter is now in the eighth grade. Like her two brothers before her (now grown and off to college), she recently had the pleasure of taking home the proverbial "fake baby". Our local junior high school has adopted a curriculum that includes one night with a computerized plastic baby that is designed to keep us up all night and require periodic and frequent attention from my daughter. She has "rock" it and make sure that she has contact with the baby (verified by a computer contact she has to wear on her wrist) in order to keep the baby from crying. Her teacher will download how the baby is cared for over a 24 hour period to make sure it wasn't "neglected".
The point of all this is to expose 8th graders to the 'burdens' of child-raising. This junior high age (8th grade) is presumably targeted in order to reach young people before they become sexually active, and it is incorporated into the health curriculum that also teaches about reproduction. The hope seems to be that the baby will convince each student that babies can be a 'pain' in order to discourage them from activity that may lead to having a baby of their own. In essence, the message seems to be, "Hey don't be having sex with each other, cuz the result might be one of these annoying babies, and you can see what a pain in the butt these can be!". Great message, huh?
In a world that is less and less inclined to ackowledge any transcendent moral truth, it seems the best we can do is try to discourage behaviors that lead to results that are 'impractical' and 'inconvenient'. We used to argue that premarital sex was wrong because it violated God's plan for sex within the context of marriage, but we could never take that approach in the public schools, right? Better now to simply say that some things should not be done because they lead to extreme inconvenience.
Of course the problem is that we really can't equate inconvenience or impracticality with immorality. There are lots of things that are impractical or inconvenient but also happen to be the the result of moral activity. It's not practical for me to spend time on the mission field serving the poor; it's not practical or convenient for me to stay up all night tending to a sick friend; it's not convenient for me to place the needs of others above my own selfish desires. But all these things are often the right moral choice. In a similar way, we also can't equate practicality and convenience with moral behavior. I am not assured to behave morally if I simply choose what is practical or convenient for me personally.
So, I'm not sure what message we are trying to send our young people with the "fake baby". I'm glad that my daughter now sees how much work babies can be, but I am far more concerned that she understand the transcendent moral issues that apply to sex outside the context of marriage, and I know that the public school system is never going to address those realities.