The power of information – sex education helps cut teen pregnancy

Who says sex education doesn’t work? At last, what I’ve been saying all along – teens are having less sex as risky behaviours such as smoking, using cannabis and drinking decline.

In particular, sex among black teens is down. And it’s because of sex ed. The power of good information.

This drop has occurred since 2010 when medically accurate information on sex, relationships, pregnancy, STIs and contraception was added to the school curriculum.

I’ve been advocating openness and candour about sex education for decades now. I even wrote a sex ed book for teenagers so they could be better informed. But uptake of the idea has been painfully slow.

Critics of sex ed claim it promotes promiscuity. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Sex ed breeds responsible sexual behaviour as our plummeting teenage pregnancy figures show.

It has achieved success where the repressive preaching to refrain from sex before marriage failed. It’s ­heartening because early sex during adolescence is linked to having more sexual partners, not using condoms, STIs and teen pregnancy.

And more sex partners can lead to human papilloma virus infection which is linked to cancer of the cervix. Researchers from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, US, carried out a survey on high-school pupils from 29 states.

The results were compared against previous studies probing the same subject, such as the CDC’s National Youth Risk Behaviour Survey in 2005.

Results reveal, over the past decade, teenage sex rates have declined in all 29 of the states surveyed except Wyoming and North Dakota.

There was nearly a 20% drop (from 67.6% to 48.5%) among black ­adolescent students between 2005 and 2015. White teenagers had a smaller decrease of nearly 4% (43.7% to 39.9%).

Ethnicity aside, almost 40% of boys and 30% of girls in year nine, who are aged 14 to 15, claimed to have had sex in 2005. However, in 2015, this had dropped by 10% and 8.6%, respectively.

Study author Kathleen Ethier added that parental monitoring of teens can help to prevent them having sex.

It’s important parents understand the crucial role they play in helping their children act responsibly as they navigate the choppy waters of ­adolescence and the temptations of becoming sexually active.

I believe that parents should be a child’s first sex educators.

Yes, teenagers do get sex education at school, but it would be wrong if parents left it at that.