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ss triple helix - summer 2005,  Saved sex - Getting increasing support

Saved sex - Getting increasing support

Contraception-focused sex education had an increasingly critical press this summer. In the UK, as latest figures showed the rate of pregnancies in under-16s in England and Wales increased by 1%, Beverley Hughes, the families and children's minister admitted that Government can do no more to reduce the UK's high teen pregnancy rate without the help of parents.[1] For a Government that has hitherto done all it can to prevent parents knowing whether their children are being provided with contraception or even an abortion, this is a perhaps a welcome beginning to seeing parents reinstated. A vast amount of research over at least the past decade has shown how vital parental input is in reducing teenage pregnancy rates [2,3,4] and it is encouraging to see this now acknowledged at ministerial level.

In the USA, a paper by Bearman and Bruckner [5] on STI rates in the early twenties of teen abstinence pledgers was widely misquoted in the UK as supporting the view that pledgers were more at risk. In fact this research showed that, pledgers' STI rates were lower (though not significantly so). However, the study, though heavily criticised by the Heritage Foundation [6] will still be widely used by the liberal UK sex education lobby to discredit 'saved-sex' education. All CMF members with an interest in this field should study its findings at source.

The astounding effect of delayed sexual debut and increasing sexual faithfulness in reducing HIV rates in Uganda was again emphasised in a paper in the PMJ.[7] The article concluded, 'Given the apparent success of prevention strategies that address primary sexual behaviour, increased consideration and resources should be allocated to ABC STD prevention initiatives that include the promotion of risk avoidance through delayed sexual debut and reduced partner reduction as well as condom education.'

Finally, saved sex received a commendation from a most unlikely source. Though the declaration, 'One should propagandise total abstinence before marriage', might be assumed to come from an American right-wing fundamentalist, it actually was made by Ludmila Stebenkova of Moscow's parliamentary committee for health care, in an interview with Pravda.[8]

She criticised 'safe-sex programmes' as nothing more than opportunities for some agencies to steal from state coffers. Commenting on a recent programme in the Ukraine, she asked, 'Could someone tell me what kind of class on how to put on condoms could cost $300 000?' Though such stealing surely does not occur in the UK, one might well ask whether two decades of 'safer- sex' promotion has been cost-effective and why so few Christian doctors are active in promoting an alternative strategy.

  2. Stammers T. Teenage pregnancies are influenced by family structure. BMJ 2002;324: 51 (letter)
  3. Bettinger JA et al. Does parental involvement predict new STIs? Arch Pediatr and Adolesc Med 2004;158:666-7
  4. Ellis BJ et al. Does father absence place daughters at special risk? Child Development 2003;74:801-21
  5. Brückner H, Bearman P. After the promise: The STD consequences of adolescent virginity pledges. Journal of Adolescent Health 2005; 36(4):271-278
  7. Genius SJ, Genius SK. Primary prevention of sexually transmitted disease: applying the ABC strategy. PMJ 2005;89:299-301
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