Sex education doesn't cut teenage pregnancy
Lessons on sex education and handing out contraception freely to young people has little impact on cutting teenage pregnancy rates in the UK, a new study has claimed.
According to David Paton, professor of industrial economics at Nottingham University, unwanted pregnancies have proved “remarkably resilient to policy initiatives”, adding the under 16 pregnancy rate in England and Wales has remained virtually static for 40 years.
He said that between 1969 and 2009 the rate has risen and fallen, but not in time with national efforts to bring it down, the Telegraph reported.
Family planning groups strongly dispute his findings, arguing that the evidence actually shows initiatives do work if given time.
They say drops since 2009 mean the rate has now become the lowest since the end of the 60s.“Millions of pounds have been spent by policymakers on numerous initiatives aimed at cutting teenage pregnancy rates,” Paton wrote in the journal Education and Health.
“However, identifying the impact of policy interventions … presents something of a challenge,” Paton said.
He said the conception rate among under 16s had changed little since 1969, fluctuating between about seven and 10 per 1,000 per year. It has peaked above nine three times: in the mid 1970s, the early 1990s and again in 1996. Since then there has been a general if bumpy decline.
Paton argued the 1996 peak came despite the introduction of the Health of the Nation initiative in 1992, which aimed to cut sexually transmitted infections and unwanted teen pregnancies, by making advice and contraception more readily available.He also found no link between councils judged to have the best sex education policies, and falls after 1996.