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Sex education does not reduce teen pregnancy or STIs, review finds

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An international review has found that sex education does not reduce the rate of teenage pregnancy or incidences of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). 

A comprehensive Cochrane review of studies from around the world combined the data from more than 55,000 young people, aged on average between 14 and 16.

The review follows a suggestion from Education Secretary Justine Greening in September, to make sex education mandatory in all schools.

Reviewed measurable outcomes

The review restricted its focus to studies featuring measurable biological outcomes, from records or tests of pregnancy and STIs. 

Data was collected from England, Scotland, South Africa, Chile, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

Dr Amanda Mason-Jones, a lead researcher at York University, commented: "Previous studies have focused on self-reported outcomes only - this is the first review and meta-analysis to look at only measurable biological outcomes."

'No effect'

But the study found that sex education was not helping to lower rates of pregnancy or STIs.

"As they are currently designed, sex education programmes alone probably have no effect on the number of young people infected with HIV, other STIs or the number of pregnancies," Dr Mason-Jones explained.

This challenges the widely held assumption that sex education does reduce rates of teenage pregnancy and incidences of STIs.

Sex ed 'reflects liberal sexual norms'

Earlier this year, Andrea Williams commented on calls to make sex and relationships education (SRE) compulsory: 

"For many years, sex and relationship education has not provided a godly stance on sexuality or sexual relationships. Instead, it reflects our society's increasingly liberal sexual norms.

"Making SRE mandatory would limit parents' freedom to withdraw their children from these lessons if so desired and usurp their responsibility in deciding what they should and should not be taught at what age."

Commenting on the Cochrane review’s findings, she added: "These findings demonstrate that the liberal norms promoted in the sex education curriculum are not in the best interests of these children. What these schools are not teaching is that sex is precious and God-given, but only truly safe and fulfilling in the context of a married relationship between one man and one woman."

Talking about sex from a Christian perspective

If you are a parent, church leader or teacher, Lovewise provides helpful resources for talking to young people about sex and relationships from a Christian perspective. 

The resources for schools cover different age groups. This video explains more. 

As well as providing resources, Lovewise also offers visits to schools to present their material.  

You can also volunteer to become a Lovewise presenter yourself. 

Related links: 
Keeping girls at school may reduce teenage pregnancy and STIs - but sex education doesn't (The Conversation)
Sex education does not work: There is 'no evidence' school initatives cut rates of STIs or pregnancies (Mail)
Sex education could become mandatory in all UK schools



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