It’s amazing to watch common sense prevail over “conventional wisdom”— even when it happens unintentionally.
That’s what just happened in the UK. The British government had to cut back funding for contraception-based sex education because of the shape of its economy. What they didn’t expect — teen pregnancy decreased drastically after liberalized sex-ed and free birth control were decreased. The findings by researchers at Nottingham University Business School and University of Sheffield are turning heads all over the world (via Catholic Herald).
Teen pregnancy is a situation everyone wants to avoid, regardless of where you lie on the political spectrum. It can lead to single-parent households and major poverty. Liberals, who have tended to get their way in social issues since the ‘70s, argue that giving minors more information about sex at increasingly earlier ages will keep them from having unwanted pregnancies.
The assertion is that “abstinence does not work.” Somehow, it’s believed that encouraging children to have sex and giving them free contraception is more likely to prevent pregnancy than if the kids were simply to not have sex at all. Perhaps policy-makers need a “birds and the bees” talk themselves to understand how sex and pregnancy work.
Now that these programs have been reduced in the UK, we can do a clear compare and contrast between modern sex-ed and traditional abstinence sex-ed.
And the facts fully support traditional sex-ed as being more effective at preventing teen pregnancy. Between 2009 and 2014, teen pregnancy rates dropped by a whopping 42.6 percent.
David Paton and Liam Wright, the academics behind the research, wrote about their findings:
“Put simply, birth control will reduce the risk of pregnancy for sex acts which would have occurred anyway, but may increase the risk among teenagers who are induced by easier access to birth control either to start having sex or to have sex more frequently.”
Their observations and observations of the data highlight everything that’s wrong with modern sex-ed. The creators of those programs think they’re equipping youth to make wise decisions.
But the reality is they’re encouraging irresponsibility. Teenagers need to learn that their actions have consequences. If they’re willing to take a risk — such as sex out of wedlock — they have to be willing to accept the consequences of that action (i.e. pregnancy). All this falls on the deaf ears of many administrators and politicians. They’re so stuck in their worldview they’re unwilling to listen to the facts presented to them.
Reducing teen pregnancy is a complex issue. There are many factors that contribute to it. For instance, teen pregnancy is more common in poor communities (via New York Times).
And it’s not because they don’t have enough sex education. But youth who feel they have no future aren’t as worried about the risks of premarital sex.
Most kids from educated middle-class households, however, want to go to college. They want to have a career. So they’re far more careful about avoiding pregnancy. Often, that means practicing abstinence.
Instead of having a cookie-cutter solution, it’s important to understand the complexity of this issue and address it likewise. By bringing these facts to the table and promoting a healthier culture, we can place personal responsibility front and center.