Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Catholic Herald: The political consensus on sex education flies in the face of the evidence

Catholic Herald: The political consensus on sex education flies in the face of the evidence

by David Paton

"Our politicians should hang their head in shame but, astonishingly, the Government continues to endorse resources like the Brook Traffic Light aimed at helping schools to identify sexual abuse. Brook instructs schools to view sexual activity between minors aged 13 and over as reflecting “safe and healthy” development as long as it is consensual and that such behaviour should be given “positive feedback”. It is as if the abuse scandals in Rotherham, Rochdale and Oxfordshire abuse scandals had never happened.

And now this week, research by myself and Liam Wright of Sheffield University has found that areas which have implemented the biggest cuts to teenage pregnancy projects such as new SRE programmes or birth control clinics for teens have actually seen bigger reductions in early pregnancy than areas which have kept these projects going. Perhaps the natural instincts of parents might be correct after all.

Although some people have treated our findings with surprise, there is in fact a wealth of academic evidence that conventional approaches to SRE often have unintended side effects. For example, we know that access to the morning after pill not only does not reduce unwanted pregnancies but, by encouraging teens to take more risks, can increase rates of sexually transmitted infections. In 2009, the BMJ found that teenage participants in one of the most prominent programmes covering sex education and access to contraception were more likely than a control group to get pregnant."

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