Whenever increases in teenage pregnancy and abortion rates make the headlines, family planning organisations say that the answer lies in more comprehensive sex education - and at younger ages.
- Some studies show sex education reduces teen pregnancies, some don't.
- Teenagers are having sex earlier and more frequently.
- In New Zealand sex education is class- room based with no material going home for parents to view.
- Students are told, "What is said in this classroom, stays in the classroom."
- As teenage pregnancy and abortion rates rise, the 'sex-perts' keep advocating more of what caused the problem in the first place.
In 2002, the New Zealand Family Planning Association (FPA) called for the government to address the teen pregnancy situation with something along the lines of the British Teen Pregnancy 10-year Strategy.
Citing the Netherlands, Executive Director, Dr Gill Boddy-Greer said:
"The real success story of the report is the Netherlands which has not only one of the lowest teenage birth rates in Europe, but also one of the lowest teenage abortion rates in the developed world. Studies conclude that it is their open attitudes towards sexuality, contraception and sexuality education along with the inclusiveness of their society that is the key to their success.
"The report says this has paved the way for sexual relationships to be discussed at an early age before barriers of embarrassment can be raised. The Dutch have gone on to reduce teenage births by 72 percent in 30 years.
"The progress of the Dutch reaffirms the need for us in New Zealand to provide comprehensive sexuality education, which as from this year should now be a national reality through the Health and Physical Education Curriculum. Hopefully we will also see the development of a good practice guide."
"Kids in society are saturated with information about contraception and messages about encouraging casual, permissive sex," said Robert Rector, who helped write the administration's abstinence education program.
Organisations that advocate comprehensive sex education have looked at ways to access the abstinence funds. As an April 2002 Physicians Consortium report highlights, some federally supported "abstinence-plus" programs teach teens about masturbation and "alternative" methods of sexual activity such as bathing or showering together and using erotic literature or movies to enhance their sexual fantasies.
Real abstinence education is clearly the safest and best message for America's adolescents. In fact, abstinence is the only "safe sex" method that is 100 percent effective every single time. The research proves that not only is it safe, but also works--and works better than non-abstinence programs. This has been seen in Uganda where HIV rates have plummeted. Read more here
A survey conducted in the UK, and released in March 2004 however, has revealed that teenage pregnancy rates are highest in areas that have been most aggressive in promoting sex education. The report revealed that explicit sex education and providing condoms to young girls simply encourages them to become sexually active.
Official figures reveal that teenage pregnancies rose in Britain by an annual rate of 800 from 38,439 in 2001 to 39,286 in 2002, despite the £15 million being spent to counter the situation. The pregnancies led to 17,682 of the children being aborted in 2001.
"Despite long-standing public support for sex education in the schools, it has been difficult to show concrete effects of sex education on sexual and contraceptive behavior," according to Jane Mauldon and Kristin Luker. There are indications that "exposure to a formal contraceptive education program increases the likelihood that a teenage woman will use a contraceptive method at first intercourse." Despite widespread sex education, however, "large numbers of teenagers still engage in intercourse with no protection against either pregnancy or STDs." 1
A 1982 survey of 1,888 teenage girls found that "prior exposure to a sex education course is positively and significantly associated with the initiation of sexual activity at ages 15 and 16." In 1986 William Barsiglio and Frank Mott listed "receiv [ing] education in sexual biology" among the factors causing boys to become involved in sexual intercourse at an early age.2.
In the same issue Deborah Dawson emphasized that: "most researchers agree that sex education does not decrease the rate of teenage pregnancies or the incidence of sexual activity.... Neither pregnancy education nor contraceptive education exerts any significant effect on the risk of premarital pregnancy among sexually active teenagers, a finding that calls into question the argument that formal sex education is an effective tool for reducing adolescent pregnancy. "3
Critics say that while Dawson may be correct that sex ed does not reduce teen pregnancy, it is not accurate to say it has no "significant effect." They point out that statistical models have shown that childhood contraceptive education increases the odds of starting intercourse at age 14 by 50 percent, a significant effect in anybody's book.
Commentator Thomas Sowell reported in Forbes:
Continuing with a failed programme
The psychological and monetary investment in comprehensive sex education programs is enormous. To change direction at this late date would mean admitting not only error, but liability as well.
Critics of comprehensive sex education believe that sex education experts have become locked into their own self-perpetuating bureaucracy, whose primary purpose is survival and, if possible, expansion. This has given society, they say, a social programme that is rewarded for negative results (increased funding).
As the teenage pregnancy and abortion rate rises, the "sexperts" continue to advocate more and more of what opponents condemn as having caused the problem in the first place. Comprehensive sex education has possibly contributed to an exploding teen pregnancy rate by encouraging increased sexual experimentation.
In 1986, Harris and Associates performed a comprehensive poll for Planned Parenthood regarding teenage sexual activity and the effects that sex education has upon it. The results are: 5
- Teenagers receiving comprehensive sex education - 46 percent had engaged in sexual intercourse
- Teenagers receiving no sex education whatsoever - 32 percent had engaged in sexual intercourse
- Teenagers receiving biological sex education - 26 percent had engaged in sexual intercourse
Long-term resultsFrom 1960 to 1991, a span of just three short decades, American society has seen the following:
- Abortions have increased 800 percent
- The illegitimate birthrate has increased 457 percent
- Child abuse has increased over 500 percent
- The divorce rate has increased 133 percent
- The percentage of single-parent families has increased 214 percent
- "Living together" has increased 279 percent
- The incidence of sexually transmitted diseases has increased 245 percent
- The teen suicide rate has increased 214 percent
- The juvenile violent crime rate has increased 295 percent.
Breaking down the barriersAllan Guttmacher, former president of Planned Parenthood was asked, "What makes abortion so secure in America?" He answered in two words: "Sex education." Atheist Madelyn Murray O'Hare wrote: "The issue of abortion is a red herring... . The fight is over sex education, including information on birth control."
Abortion would appear to be the effect, and sex education the chief cause if not the root cause, of the sexual revolution.
* A study analyzing the birth and pregnancy rates of single teens, released in April 2003 by the Adolescent and Family Health journal, showed that increased abstinence is the major cause of the declining birth and pregnancy rates among single teenage girls. Among unmarried teenage girls ages 15 to 19 increased abstinence accounted for 67 percent of the decrease in the pregnancy rate.
Similarly, a 51 percent drop in the birth rate for single teenage girls ages 15 to 19 is attributed to abstinence. According to the Adolescent and Family Health study--the most extensive study done to date on the birth and pregnancy rates of single and married teens 15 to 19 years old--67 percent of the decline in pregnancy among single teenage girls is due to a reduction in the proportion of sexually active girls, not to the increased use of contraception.
- Jane Mauldon and Kristin Luker, "The Effects of Contraceptive Education on Method Use at First Intercourse," Family Planning Perspectives, Vol. 28, #1, 1-2/96, pp. 19-24
- William Marsiglio and Frank Mott. "The Impact of Sex Education on Sexual Activity, Contraceptive Use and Premarital Pregnancy among American Teenagers." Family Planning Perspectives, July/August 1986, pp. 151-162
- 3 D.A. Dawson "The Effects of Sex Education on Adolescent Behavior." Family Planning Perspectives, July-August 1986, pp. 162-170
- Thomas Sowell. "The Big Lie." Forbes, 23 December 1991, p. 52.
- "American Teens Speak: Sex, Myths, TV and Birth Control." Poll conducted for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) by Louis Harris and Associates, September-October 1986.
- United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. Reference Data Book and Guide to Sources, Statistical Abstract of the United States. 1990 (110th Edition). (Washington, D.C., United States Government Printing Office), 1990. Tables 80, 90, 185, 296, 297. United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 1992 (Washington, D.C., United States Government Printing Office), 1992.