Tuesday, May 24, 2005

On The Sun: Sex Education and Teen Pregnancy

The Sun's article, which appeared yesterday, raises a number of issues regarding teen pregnancy and the role of sex education in modern Britain. While it is impossible to comment on the case of the 12, 14 and 16 year-old girls without knowing what happened at their school, some general comments can be made.

There must be no retreat from sex education as the most effective means of reducing unintended pregnancies through proper family planning. The most common complaint, generally in America rather than britain, that sex education actually encourages sex, seems deeply unlikely. Sex education cannot hardly help but be something that empowers children and young adults in making decisions for themselves about their sexual activities (if any). While an emphasis on abstinence as the only certain means of contraception is clearly important, the best guarantee against a sex education that is mechanistic and preventative, is one that also emphasises on the emotional issues involved in sex. Regardless of the real dangers of under-age pregnancies and STDs, it is absolutely vital to emphasise the issues children should consider, as they become involved in relationships.

Schools clearly do have an important role in this, as they offer a source of authority outside of the immediate family of a pupil. Additionally, by introducing the ideas to all children simulatenously, one may hope for a better community sexual culture in that year than if each had been educated seperately. Yet the role of parents in such issues is unavoidable, and that is a topic I'll address in my second post on this news story.