School-based sex advice cuts teenage pregnancies

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Sex education works in reducing teenage pregnancy, delaying the age of first sexual intercourse and encouraging condom use, the British Medical Association said today.

It called for doctors to work in alliance with teachers and parents after a review of studies concluded that school-based sex education can be effective in reducing teenage pregnancy especially when linked to contraceptive services. A 1994 study showed that 94 per cent of parents thought schools should provide sex education and 53 per cent rated such provision "extremely important".

Calling for a public debate, the association warned that current government guidelines do not "promote the health of schoolchildren" and demanded the repeal Section 28, the controversial clause banning promotion of homosexuality by local authorities which has proved "positively harmful in ensuring issues are responsibly addressed within school". While Section 28 does not refer to schools "it has caused much confusion and concern".

A spokeswoman for Brook Advisory Services, the national network of sex advice centres for teenagers, said: "Doctors can play an important role in sex education with young people but also supporting others ... in this controversial area."