Failure to cut teenage pregnancy

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The Independent Online
Sex education is too little and too late, and is failing Britain's young people, claim the authors of research published today. More open discussion of sex could cut teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, delay the average age that youngsters become sexually active and lead to better use of contraceptives, according to a survey funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

The authors of the report called for the provision of more family planning clinics geared specifically towards young people, and dealing with controversial issues like homosexuality and abortion.

Comparison of British and Dutch youngsters showed that those in the Netherlands - where teenage pregnancy rates are considerably lower - had earlier and more open sex education, both in the home and at school. The Dutch youngsters had more confidence discussing sex, contraception and the dangers of HIV with partners before intercourse and had more close friends of the opposite sex.

The survey involved 280 interviews and an analysis of more than 17,500 teenage pregnancies in the Wessex area between 1991 and 1994.