Sex, drugs roll up with labour’s nanny state- teenage pregnancies a real sex scandal
There have been many policy failures by this labour Government; but few can have been as spectacular as its avowed aim of reducing teenage pregnancies by half.
Since 1998, there has been a reduction of just 11 per cent – and recent trends have been upwards once more.
The strategy has involved the expansion of sex- education programmes and the provision of contraception in school. Girls under 16 can already get the morning-after pill from school nurses without their parents’ knowledge.
Yet an academic study has found that encouraging children to talk about sex could have increased the number of pregnancies, by tempting them to become sexually active at an early age.
The evidence is now overwhelming that these schemes are not effective in cutting teenage pregnancy rates.
An improvement in wider educational standards seems to be the most significant factor in reducing teenage pregnancies; yet the Government has failed there, too, especially among the children of poorer families, where the problem is greatest.
More than 12 years after this strategy was launched, and despite the expenditure of many millions of pounds, the UK still has the worst teenage pregnancy problem in western Europe.
Any parent could have told ministers that bringing children into contact with what the study calls “risky peers” might have the opposite effect to that intended. This approach undermines any attempt by parents to discourage their children from having early sexual relationships, and the consequences have been all too predictable.
Yet any suggestion that a moral dimension, or the virtues of abstinence, might be included in sex education classes is derided by those who think they know better – but who have been shown by the failure of their policy to know very little indeed.