Articles, Focus

Sex Ed. – Don’t copy England’s failure

In 2015 I spent a week in Romania talking to pro-family groups in five different towns and cities urging them to resist moves by the Romanian Government to introduce graphic sex education into their schools.  I spoke about the sex education programmes in British schools and cautioned them not to be taken in by such arguments that sex education was needed to curb teenage pregnancies. Don’t copy our Government’s strategy was my key message.

As it turns out my message was right. A new study published in the journal “Social Science and Medicine” http://eprints.gla.ac.uk/227554/  has concluded that England’s Teenage Pregnancy Strategy, in which school sex education was a major component, should not be used in the future either in England or any other country.

Launched in 1999, the aim of the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy was to halve teenage conceptions within ten years. The strategy was heralded as a success after rates fell by more than 50% from 1998 to 2014. But questions have been raised in recent years about the extent to which the dramatic drop in teenage pregnancies was really due to the strategy.

Andrew Baxter and his fellow researchers at Glasgow University came to the conclusion that the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy had no impact on the drop in teenage pregnancies. The researchers looked at a range of studies as well as comparing under 18 pregnancy rates in England with Scotland and Wales and with European and other high income countries. The figures told them that there was “no evidence of any impact of the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy on rates of pregnancy or birth among adolescents in England”.

The Glasgow University study does not look into the impact on children and teenagers of the disturbing and unnecessary sex education to which they were, and are still, subjected. Sadly, I know of no study that does. However, it is worth noting the false claims of success of the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy, because in the continuing fight to protect children from damaging education in schools on relationships and sex, we can point to the abject failure of a previous Government regime.

SPUC was always fiercely critical of the strategy with its toxic combination of sex education and contraception provision. Our concerns were, and still are, that teaching children and teenagers about sex in the classroom sexualises them and undermines their parents. Targeting primary school children with explicit sex education was a particularly egregious aspect of the strategy; essentially priming young children for sexual activity.

So what brought down teenage pregnancies? The Glasgow University Study cites a number of possibilities including economic changes, changes in social welfare, reduced unemployment and greater social diversity. Young people doing better at school seems plausible to me. This was put forward by Professor David Paton in his 2014 paper “Is Education the Best Contraception?” https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2462432 It has also been suggested that the increased broadband and the introduction of smart phones in 2007 could account for fewer teenagers becoming pregnant.

It seems that there are still unexplained factors for the decline in teenage pregnancies. But the important point is that this didn’t happen as a result of £280 million being spent over ten years on what is now recognised to be a failed strategy.

In 2015 I wrote: “If mandatory sex education is stopped at the Romanian border it will deal a much needed blow to the global campaign to sexualise and defile the innocent hearts and minds of the world’s children.” Well, that blow has been dealt. Last year mandatory sex education in Romanian schools was stopped thanks to the powerful influence of the Romanian Orthodox Church, at whose invitation I visited that country. https://balkaninsight.com/2020/06/03/romania-bows-to-church-scraps-mandatory-sex-education/ How far that blow has reverberated I don’t know. Not as far as England I fear, where we are entering an even darker era with mandatory Relationships and Sex Education.

Antonia Tully

 

Used by kind permission of  SPUC

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