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Sex education not enough

21st November 2006

08052006_babyremote1.jpgThe Government needs to do more than rely on sex education to cut teenage pregnancy and abortion rates, says a new study.

The teenage pregnancy rate in the UK is the highest in Western Europe, although pregnancy rates among under-18s are currently at their lowest for 20 years in England.

The Government wants to halve 1999 rates in England by 2010.

Now the Medical Research Council has examined sex education in 25 secondary schools across the UK.

Reporting their findings in the British Medical Journal, they reveal pregnancy and abortion rates among girls taught with an enhanced sex education scheme were no different to those given conventional sex education.

Their findings point to the need for other strategies to be introduced as a matter of urgency.

While some believe sex education should begin at as young as 10, others fear it encourages promiscuity.

All schools in England and Wales have to teach sex education to 11 to 14-year-olds as part of the science curriculum. In Scotland, where the research was carried out, schools are not obliged to provide sex and relationship education.

Researchers looked at the enhanced sex education programme, known as SHARE, which uses role-playing with students who are taught how to handle condoms and negotiate relationships.

The study concluded, while SHARE was popular with students and teachers, it had no impact on the number of pregnancies or abortions among school girls.

The Government and campaigners agreed that sex education is only part of the answer.

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