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         July 2017


Sex education linked to teen pregnancies

There have recently been calls for RSE, relationships and sex education, to be made compulsory in schools but a new study shows that more sex education actually leads to higher rates of teenage pregnancy. In areas where there have been cuts to public expenditure on sex education and birth control, teenage pregnancy rates have dropped and interestingly the biggest decrease has been in areas where the teenage pregnancy budget was cut the most.

David Paton, Nottingham University Business School, and Liam Wright, University of Sheffield, carried out research for the study looking at the effect that cuts to providing the morning after pill and giving sex education classes have had on teen pregnancy rates since the financial crash in 2008. Their findings revealed that pregnancy rates actually decreased by 42.6 % between 2009 and 2014.

The two researchers wrote in the Journal of Health Economics: "There are arguments to suggest that the impact [of the cuts] on teenage pregnancy may be not as bad as feared and, indeed, that spending on projects relating to teenage pregnancy may even be counterproductive." They also wrote: "Put simply, birth control will reduce the risk of pregnancy for sex acts which would have occurred anyway, but may increase the risk among teenagers who are induced by easier access to birth control either to start having sex or to have sex more frequently." (As quoted by Christian Concern.)

In response to these findings, Jill Kirby, columnist and former director of the Centre for Policy, commented in the Daily Mail saying "...if you start teaching children about sex at a younger and younger age, the inevitable consequence will be that they go out and try it at a younger and younger age...This is because little of this sex education is accompanied by moral strictures or any message of abstinence or restraint. So, all of these various courses end up encouraging teenagers not only to think about sex, but also to think about it as something attractive.... Sex is suddenly high on the agenda for teenagers who would otherwise have been extremely cautious about it. All of a sudden, underage sex becomes a social norm.... And this brings us to a much darker side of the normalisation of teenage sex, and one that should trouble us all....For decades, we have failed young teenagers by making sex acceptable and facilitating it. This failed philosophy in curtailing teenage pregnancy began in the Seventies. It coincided with the normalisation of sex outside marriage, combined with the pill and a general attitude that children should be told about the joys of sex, rather than just say no and wait." (As quoted in the Daily Mail)