Dolls from the dark side

But they are actually state-of-the-art baby simulators aimed at helping to reduce teenage pregnancies.

Some of the dolls have special needs. One has foetal alcohol syndrome and another mimics a baby experiencing drug withdrawal. It is programmed to shake uncontrollably.

A third is designed to demonstrate the effects of shaken baby syndrome.

“I was looking at an innovative way to capture people’s attention in terms of making healthy choices in their lives,” said Duddy, of Athlone in Cape Town.

Together with her daughter, Cherie-Leigh, and husband Wayne, she is piloting the Your Future in Your Hands programme at the Advanced Learning Academy in Athlone.

About 35 teenage boys and girls will soon have to care for their assigned “babies” for the day.

At the end of the day Wayne will download data from the dolls, which will report on the quality of care given to them during this period.

In addition, Duddy has four pregnancy simulator suits. The device mimics the movement of the foetus in the womb.

To mark International Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Day today, Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille will assist council officials in destroying thousands of litres of alcohol confiscated from the city’s beaches.

“Initiatives like World Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Day are vital in the fight against this illness,” said Dorothea Gertse, a social worker at the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children near Cape Town.