Sunday, February 03, 2008

Family & Youth Concern vs. Polly Toynbee on Sex Ed

Briefing. See also 'Catholic mom of 10' here and here.

From CFNews: In a recent article in support of compulsory sex education in all UK schools. Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee launched an attack on Family and Youth Concern (FYC). [Polly Toynbee. Sex education works, so why is it not compulsory. Guardian. 4 December 2007].. She had evidently been irked by the press interest in FYC's report 'Waking Up to the Morning-After Pill', which had been the front-page story at the previous day's Daily Mail and had also received prominent coverage in other national and regional newspapers. In view of the factual inaccuracies contained in her article, FYC asked the Guardian to publish a correction. In reply the newspaper offered them the opportunity to write a comment piece in response to Polly Tornbee. A shortened and edited version of the following article by FYC's director. Norman Wells was printed in the Guardian on 7 December.'[Norman Wells, Don't believe the contraception industry: sex education doesn't work. Guardian. 7 December 2007]

According to Polly Toynbee, the small reduction we have seen in teenage conception rates 'may be partly due to easier emergency contraception from local pharmacies'. However, the fact remains that there is no evidence in the world to support her hypothesis. International studies have consistently shown that increased access to the 'morning-after pill' has reduced neither abortion nor unintended pregnancy rates.

Our own study (Norman Wells and Helena Hayward, Waking Up to the Morning-After Pill) which Polly dismisses as 'a spurious story' and 'evidence-proven nonsense', reveals that 84 per cent of Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) have policies permitting the pharmacy supply of the emergency pill to girls under the age of 16. and over half are prepared under some circumstances to insist on such provision as a condition of granting a pharmacy licence. Yet not a single PCT was able to cite any evidence that the confidential provision of the morning-after pill in pharmacies has contributed to a reduction in under-l6 conception rates. If Polly has any evidence that has hitherto eluded all 152 PCTs in England. I am sure they will be only too pleased to hear from her.


This may sound counter-intuitive. After all, if the 'morning-after pill' works at all, it stands to reason that it does prevent at least some unwanted pregnancies from developing and thus prevents at least some abortions. However. there is also evidence that the ready availability of contraception results in some young people becoming sexually active who would not otherwise have done so.

For almost a year following Victoria Gillick's Court Appeal victory in 1984, under-16s were unable to obtain contraception without parental consent. The sex education establishment and contraceptive industry protested that teenage pregnancy rates would rocket. But they didn't. While under-I6 attendances at family planning clinics went down by a third, teenage conception rates remained the same, suggesting that the restriction on contraceptives provision to under-16s led to a reduction in underage sex activity.

'Children's reproductive health rights'

But not everybody regards less teenage sexual activity as a positive outcome. Some are wedded to the notion of 'children's reproductive health rights' - a euphemism for the 'right' of children to engage in unlawful sexual intercourse, with confidential access to contraception and abortion. Polly Toynbee herself is dismissive of any attempt to discourage teenage sex and even goes so far as to say that, 'It is good news... that more pregnant teenagers are opting for abortions'. Bearing in mind the trauma experienced by many women for months and years after an abortion, this is hardly a cause for celebration.

Polly refers to Ofsted's criticisms of much sex education in its 'Time for Change'? report. This same report asserted that. 'School nurses can... provide a valuable service, particularly in terms of providing emergency hormonal contraception and advising on other forts of contraception.' The basis for the claim? Not that it reduces teenage pregnancy and abortion rates, but 'pupils said they appreciated it'. It does not bode well for children when the body responsible for improving standards in schools cannot tell the difference between what children say they value and what is truly valuable.

Sex education - an ideological battlefield

"Abstinence teaching doesn't work'. Polly asserts, while sex education 'taught well' can serve as the panacea for any number of social ills. But this all begs the question as to what it means for sex education to 'work' and to be 'taught well'.

The organisations demanding compulsory sex education in all schools share a strong hostility towards teaching children the positive benefits of saving sex for marriage. Yet this is a message they desperately need to hear. Separating sex from marriage has not only led to high rates of teenage pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and abortions, but it is also a major contributory factor in divorce and family breakdown and all the human misery and adverse social consequences that flow from it. Young people desperately need to hear that there is a better way.

Sex education has become an ideological battlefield on which war is being waged for the hearts and minds of children. For this reason it is vital to resist attempts to impose a state-approved approach. Schools must remain accountable to parents who bear the primary responsibility for the care and nurture of their children, and parents must retain the freedom to withdraw their children from sex education lessons that they believe will do more harm
than good. [FYC]

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Pope Leo XIII's Prayer to St Michael

Holy Michael, Archangel, defend us in the day of battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust down to Hell Satan, and all wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen