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Anatomically detailed dolls (also known as anatomically correct dolls or anatomically precise dolls) are supplied with all the primary and secondary sexual characteristics with which their human counterparts are equipped: “oral and anal openings, ears, tongues, nipples, and hands with individual fingers” for all and a “vagina, clitoris and breasts” for each of the women and a “penis and testicles” for each of the men, according to the product descriptions provided by a company that sells such dolls to parents, educators, and other interested parties.
Overview[edit | edit source]
Some children's baby dolls and potty training dolls are anatomically correct for educational purposes. There are also dolls that are used as medical models, particularly in explaining medical procedures to child patients. These have a more detailed depiction of the human anatomy and may include features like removable internal organs.
These dolls are also sometimes used by parents or teachers as sex education aids. The plastic or cotton dolls wear removable clothing, and the male doll’s penis fits into the other dolls’ oral, anal, and vaginal openings, as do the dolls’ fingers, so that sex relating to these orifices may be simulated. The genitals of the early anatomically correct dolls were not actually anatomically correct, as they were found to be disproportionately large to the rest of their bodies, but this error has since been corrected.
Forensic use[edit | edit source]
A particular type of anatomically correct dolls are used in law enforcement and therapy. These dolls have detailed depictions of all the primary and secondary sexual characteristics of a human: "oral and anal openings, ears, tongues, nipples, and hands with individual fingers" for all and a "vagina, clitoris and breasts" for each of the women and a "penis and testicles" for each of the men, according to the product descriptions provided by a company that sells such dolls.
These dolls are used during interviews with children who may have been sexually abused. The dolls wear removable clothing, and the anatomically correct and similarly scaled body parts ensure that sexual activity can be simulated realistically.
Controversy[edit | edit source]
While there are supporters of the use of anatomically correct dolls in questioning victims of sexual abuse/molestation, there are also critics of this practice.. Objectors make the following points:
- Many who employ the dolls may have little or no training in how to use them. By their own actions with regard to the dolls and the asking of what might be considered leading questions, some interviewers appear to have suggested sexual behaviors to the children whom they were interviewing that the children might not have performed on their own without such coaching. Moreover, the use of such terms as “play” or “pretend” by the interviewer may confuse children who might suppose themselves to be merely playing, as opposed to enacting the actual behavior to which they were allegedly subjected by adults. 
- It has also been suggested that children are unable to conceive of the dolls as representing stand-ins for themselves and, therefore, do not see any relationship between the behaviors that they or the interviewer enact with the doll and the abusive behavior to which the children were said to have been subjected by an adult who is not now present. Many professionals believe that they should not be used in interviewing children. Even those who argue that the use of the dolls for this purpose should continue to be permitted agree that the dolls lack proven validity and reliability.
- Critics have also argued that because of the novelty of the dolls, children will act out sexually explicit maneuvers with the dolls even if the child has not been sexually abused.
- Another criticism is that because the studies that compare the differences between how abused and non-abused children play with these dolls are conflicting (some studies suggest that sexually abused children play with anatomically correct dolls in a more sexually explicit manner than non-abused children, while other studies suggest that there is no correlation), it is impossible to interpret what is meant by how a child plays with these dolls.
See also[edit | edit source]
- Child abuse
- Childhood play behavior
- Clinical judgement (not diagnosis)
- Doll play
- Sexual abuse
- Use of puppets in child clinical psychology
References[edit | edit source]
- Heather Corley. Great Toddler Potty Training Products. About.com. About.com. URL accessed on 28 November 2008.
- includeonly>"If a Doll Wears an Eye Patch, I Can Too", New York Times, January 21, 1988. Retrieved on 2008-11-26. “With her son's experience in mind, Ms. Zayka, a former research chemist, designed an anatomically correct, life-size boy doll. She sewed it at home and donated it to the hospital to be used for children's demonstrations. The doll, which has changeable faces to suggest sadness and sleep, has cloth layers that attach with Velcro and that open, showing bones and organs.”
- Migima manufacturer of anatomically correct dolls
- Ceci, Stephen J.; Maggie Bruck (1995). Jeopardy in the Courtroom: A Scientific Analysis of Children’s Testimony.
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