Sex Education Is More Than Telling Teens to Say 'No' HEALTH: Dear Miriam

Article excerpt

Byline: MIRIAM STOPPARD

Teaching kids to say no to sex makes them more likely to delay having it, a new US study claims.

No doubt conservative groups will cite this as proof that a "save yourself for marriage" approach is more effective than sex education.

But let's not jump to conclusions.

Even those in charge of the report admit this doesn't mean other methods should be ditched - just that abstinence lessons could make a useful contribution to sex education.

Scientists surveyed 600 children aged 11 to 15, and found that one third of those given abstinence lessons had sex over the next two years compared to half of those who were taught safe sex or given no sex education.

We need to look at these results, from the University of Pennsylvania, alongside other research. It's already proven that a "just say no" approach alone doesn't work. Look what happened with the US virginity pledge trend a few years ago.

Not only were teens who publicly promised to put off sex till marriage as likely to have premarital sex as non-pledgers, they were LESS likely to use condoms and other forms of birth control.

Pregnancy rates The fact that the UK has the highest teen pregnancy rate in Europe has been blamed on too much sex education. I'd say it's down to not enough of the right kind.

Reliable research shows that teens who have a good sex education - learning not just about the biology of sex but the responsibility that goes with it - are more likely to delay sex and to practise safe sex when they do. …