Campaigners dismiss results of study linking cuts in sex education to reduction in teenage pregnancy

Date: 28th June 2017
Category: Health and health services

Sex educators and campaigners have raised concerns over the validity of the results of a new study which claims that cutting spending on sex education is the key to reducing teenage pregnancy rates.

The study, by academics from Nottingham and Sheffield universities, suggests that, since 2010 when the government began cutting grants for sex education and sexual health, the teenage pregnancy rate has declined. The study also claims there is a relationship between the rate of decline and the amount of funding cut, with the decline being steepest in those areas where funding was cut most drastically.

However, the results of the study have been widely dismissed by sex educators and campaigners who state that there is an extensive evidence base to prove that sex education not only ensures increased use of contraception and safe sex among teenagers, but also increases their ability to recognise and report abuse.

Lisa Hallgarten, coordinator of the Sex-Education Forum, states that "There is extensive evidence that sex and relationships education supports young people's health and wellbeing in a range of ways - including their ability to recognise and report abuse, preparedness for puberty, delay in first sex, increased likelihood to use contraception at first sex, reduced age gap between sexual partners and more."

Ms Hallgarten also points to the fact that, despite cuts from national government in 2010, many local authorities chose to continue the teenage-pregnancy strategy that was implemented in 2000.

The government has now said it will introduce compulsory sex education in all schools after concerns were raised by local-government chiefs over the lack of comprehensive sex education.

Helen Marshall, chief executive of Brook, states that "It is important to remember that the UK's teenage birth rate continues to be one of the highest in western Europe," she said. "Sexual health has seen significant cuts in recent years, and our worry is that further cuts will result in poorer sexual health.

"We therefore urge the government to think carefully before reducing investment in these areas."