Why This Little Girl's 'New Doll' Turned Out to Be a Pregnancy Test

doll pregnancy test
Save the Children USA/YouTube
Talking about pregnancy with girls who are still young enough to play with dolls might seem like a ridiculous idea -- until you consider the fact that millions of young girls experience unwanted pregnancies each year. This harsh reality is the subject of a new video from the organization Save the Children that shows a young girl opening a box that she thinks has a doll inside ... but contains a pregnancy test instead.

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In the video, the little girl is baffled by the box's contents (and reportedly, her reaction was not staged). "I don't know what this is," she says, staring at the test. "It says pregnant, not pregnant." 

Then she reads the following (very disturbing) stat off a card from the box:

"Every two seconds, a girl around the world gives birth ... Girls can have babies?" 

Indeed: Girls can and do have babies, unfortunately. And, as the video states, "When a girl gets pregnant, her childhood ends."

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The video was created to publicize a new report from Save the Children, which shows that around 16 million girls ages 15 to 19 give birth every year (as do a million girls under the age of 15). The report looked at 172 countries and rated them based on the health, safety, and security of childhoods (including factors such as early pregnancy, child labor, and violence). The US trailed behind countries including Bosnia, Qatar, and Poland to come in at #36.

While, according to Save the Children's report, the rate of young mothers under the age of 15 is on the decline worldwide, the rate among older teens is holding steady. And it's not just a "third world" problem, either: In 2015, around 1 in 45 girls ages 15 to 19 in the US had a baby, giving us a higher rate of adolescent birth than most other developed nations (twice as many as France and five times as many as Japan).

Girls of color are disproportionately affected. According to the CDC, the rate for Hispanic teens in 2015 was over twice as high as for white teens (and almost two times higher for African American teens). Teen moms also disproportionately live in economically challenged, often rural areas and have low levels of education. But perhaps the scariest number of all? Every year, approximately 70,000 girls ages 10 to 19 die from complications related to pregnancy or childbirth.

Realizing that there are 10-year-old girls out there dying in childbirth makes this video seem a lot less ridiculous, to be sure. Seeing a little innocent girl with all the clichéd trappings of childhood only drives home the point of how tragic the situation is for so many. Children deserve to be children, and shouldn't have to face raising babies of their own. 

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Of course, there's so much that needs to change before this problem is remedied worldwide -- and certainly, our current administration is doing nothing to help. (Quite the opposite, with Trump's reinstatement of the global gag rule, which blocks funding to international nonprofits offering family planning services if those services include abortion, and a proposed budget that would defund Planned Parenthood.)

So as parents, it's up to us to talk to our kids about safe sex and birth control -- early and often. Yes, it's awkward and feels like something we shouldn't have to do. But the conversation is necessary, because the consequences of unwanted pregnancies are devastating and terribly real for far too many girls. Hopefully, if we say the right things and keep the conversation going, it will be a long time before our kids ever get a close-up look at a real pregnancy test.

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