By Greg Pfundstein
Last week here on the NYC Parents Choice Blog, we discussed the evidence from program evaluation that shows that abstinence education works. This week I want to focus not on the evidence provided by evaluations of programs, but on the evidence provided by application of programs in the real world. Fortunately, we have a case study in the UK.
In the late 1990’s the Labour Government in the UK set itself the goal of halving the teen pregnancy rate by 2010. To this end, they instituted mandatory sex education in schools that focused on condom and contraception use, and also provided free contraception, abortion, and emergency contraception to kids without letting their parents know. This is exactly the philosophy that motivates Mayor Bloomberg’s sex ed mandate: more contraception will solve the problem. So if now, more than a decade after the UK implemented this policy, the Bloomberg administration is implementing it here in New York City, it must be because it was such a success in the UK, right?
Wrong. In fact, the pregnancy rate remains virtually unchanged in the UK, and has risen for teenagers under 16. Meanwhile, the abortion rate has increased, and the rates of sexually transmitted diseases have gone through the roof. And it only cost 300 million pounds (almost $473,000,000). One UK government official said in 2007, “What we actually need is for family-led organisations, and local communities and the voluntary sector to work together on these problems.” The Telegraph, in an August 2010 editorial, called the program “a sexual disaster for teenagers and society.” In that editorial the editors made this strong point: “Moreover, parents must be part of the process, not kept in ignorance: evidence from America shows that their involvement helps to reduce teenage pregnancy rates. This is because it is the family, above all, that is the key here.” Read more here, here and here.
Parents deserve the right to opt their children out of failed programs and into common sense alternatives that will help protect their children from disease. That’s what the NYC Parents’ Choice Coalition is all about.