This month, the British Medical Journal (sorry, subscription only) has published a report on a randomized controlled study on enhanced sex ed that failed to reduce the numbers of pregnancies or abortions in teen girls. Essentially, the “programme” involves education for boys and girls 13 to 15 years old, including teaching them to obtain and “handle” condoms (how to put them on), role playing and games about sexual situations. This is in contrast to “Conventional Education” in the UK, which is described this way in the report:
In the 12 control schools sex education for third and fourth years varied from seven to 12 lessons in total, primarily devoted to provision of information and discussion. Only two control schools routinely demonstrated how to handle condoms, and none systematically developed negotiation skills for sexual encounters. The cost of conventional education varied, with individual packages starting from about £20. Few teachers had more than one day’s training, which would have cost about £180 a day, and some had received none or only a few hours’ training.
Luckily, there are some good reviews online:
“Sex Education Fails to Cut Teenage Pregnancies” from the Guardian.
“Role playing sex classes fail to cut abortions,” from the Telegraph.
An enhanced sex education programme for teenagers has proved no better than conventional teaching in cutting unwanted pregnancies or abortions, a detailed research study said yesterday.
The programme was based on an intensive £900 training course for teachers that was then delivered to 15-year-olds over three years.
Five years later, conception rates were measured in 20-year-olds who had been on the programme and compared with those in young people who had not.
The teaching system, called Share — sexual health and relationships: safe, happy and responsible — included group work, role play and games. The teenagers were shown how to use condoms and access sexual health services and were given leaflets on sexual health.
The programme and research was devised and supported by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Education Board for Scotland, now Health Scotland.
Teachers in the schools used for comparison had less instruction or none at all.
“Sex education “only does so much’” from BBC News notes that schools are required to teach sex ed from ages 11-14 in England and Wales, but there has been no such requirement in Scotland.
And from the November 23 “Learning and Teaching Scotland” web site, we learn that the program was introduced throughout that region last week.
The UK press reports that the teen pregnancy rates under 18 are going down, from 44.3 births per 1000 girls ages 15 to 17 to 42.9 since 1998, and declared this a “success.”
Edited 12/29/08 for labels.