Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Compulsory sex education won’t reduce rates of teenage pregnancy

Proposals to force all schools to teach a compulsory sex education curriculum from primary level up and to restrict the right of parents to opt-out their children are back on the parliamentary agenda in the UK. State maintained secondary schools currently have to provide sex and relationships education, but academies and free schools do not.

Back in 2010, similar proposals to make sex education a statutory requirement for all schools were washed-up in the run up to the general election. They are now being re-introduced through a private members' bill by Green MP Caroline Lucas. The education select committee also has an ongoing inquiry into whether policy changes are needed. Yet there is little evidence from research or international comparisons that making sex education compulsory will have a big impact on the sexual health of young people.

There is considerable agreement among academics that teenage pregnancy rates and other indicators of sexual health are strongly correlated with factors such as poverty, educational achievement, religion and family stability. But there is less agreement over the impact of policies aimed directly at reducing unwanted pregnancy, in particular the role of school-based sex education and access to family planning services.  (more...)

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