Byline: GRAHAM GRANT
HEALTH chiefs are to adopt a controversial sex education scheme for schools despite a damning report branding it a failure.
The Share programme - Sexual Health and Relationships: Safe, Happy and Responsible - was supposed to help cut Scotland's high rate of teenage abortions and sexually-transmitted diseases.
Under the scheme, aimed at 13 to 15-year-olds, children as young as 14 were taught how to put on condoms and told where to get advice on safe sex.
But researchers yesterday said a [pound]600,000 trial of the project had failed - and revealed that schools taking part had actually reported a rise in the rate of unwanted
pregnancies. The report dismissed Share as having been 'of limited benefit' and concluded that parents should instead be given a greater say in children's sex education.
However, the Health Education Board for Scotland (HEBS) last night ignored the report's findings, praising Share's 'enormous strengths' and announcing plans to extend it across the country.
Critics called on the Scottish Executive to stop the publiclyfunded body going ahead with the
move, claiming the scheme showed the Executive's sexual health policy was 'fatally flawed'.
Peter Kearney, spokesman for the Catholic Church in Scotland, said: 'Ministers are flying in the face of research by pushing ahead with this programme even when it has been categorically proven a failure.
'Parents will be astonished by HEBS's insistence on expanding this scheme because it exposes yet again the terrible hypocrisy at the heart of the Executive's health message.' Martin Raymond, spokesman for HEBS, last night confirmed that the quango hoped for an expansion of the project across Scotland. He said: 'We believe quite clearly that this piece of research shows Share is the best sex education package we have available to us.' The Share trials involved 8,000 pupils at 25 schools in the Tayside and Lothian areas. Children at 13 schools were taught using the scheme, while teachers at the others used various other approaches.
Children being taught using Share were shown how to put on condoms by teachers using specially-made models and told where to get advice on safe sex. Lessons also encouraged them to discuss situations such as visiting a clinic to get contraceptives and dealing with a partner who did not want to use condoms.
By contrast, approaches used in the other schools included only discussing sex education with children when they asked questions.
Researchers who later followed …