Tory MP Philip Davies says sex education has increased teenage pregnancy rate – but figures reveal it's at lowest since 1969

Number of pregnancies among under 15 to 17-year-olds is declining

Heather Saul
Thursday 23 October 2014 15:42 BST
Philip Davies commented on the effect sex education may be having on teen pregnancy rates
Philip Davies commented on the effect sex education may be having on teen pregnancy rates (Getty Images)

A Tory MP who suggested sex education could have increased the number of teenage pregnancies may be surprised to learn the rate is actually at its lowest since 1969.

Philip Davies commented on the effect sex education may be having on teen pregnancy rates as MPs debated the Sex and Relationships Education (Curriculum) Bill.

It was during this debate that the MP for Shipley in Yorkshire suggested parents should be solely responsible for providing their children’s sex education.

Addressing the House of Commons, Mr Davies said: "We have been having sex education in our schools for more than 40 years, and it was supposedly going to solve things such as teenage pregnancies and unwanted pregnancies.

“Most of my constituents would probably conclude that the more sex education we have had since the early 1970s, the more teenage pregnancies and unwanted pregnancies we have had.

“Members do not want to hear this, but they might want to look at the evidence and then they might think that perhaps we should try less sex education in schools - or perhaps, even better, no sex education at all. That might be a better tactic."

However, teen pregnancies have been at their lowest levels since 1969 among 15 to 17-year-olds, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released in February. Only five per cent of teen pregnancies are among girls younger than 15-years-old.

In 2012, the ONS found the rate of conceptions across England and Wales at 27.9 conceptions per 1,000 women under the age of 18.

This was a decrease of ten per cent on the previous year.

Overall, the only increase in conception rates was among women aged 35 and over.

A spokesperson for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (Bpas) said Mr Davies appears to be "incredibly misinformed" about sex education and teen pregnancy rates.

Bpas told The Independent: "Mr Davies suggests that evidence demonstrates sex education increases teenage pregnancy rates, when in reality it shows quite the opposite. SRE lessons provide young people with the essential information they need to understand their bodies, protect their health, and have happy, safe relationships.

"Good quality SRE, alongside access to comprehensive family planning services, plays a central role in supporting young people to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Of course many parents will discuss these issues with their children, but it is vital that sex education is provided inside the classroom to ensure that no young person misses out."

The Independent has contacted Mr Davies for comment.

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