Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Excellent article on teenage pregnancy in England

Here is the link to an excellent article written by Polly Toynbee in the Guardian yesterday

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/feb/17/alfie-new-labour

3 comments:

Nick Gulliford said...

I don't agree that Polly Toynbee wrote an "Excellent article on teenage pregnancy in England".

Professor David Paton, an economist at the Nottingham University Business School, wrote:

“In March 2002, a paper was published in the Journal of Health economics entitled “The Economics of Family Planning and Underage Conceptions (Paton, 2002). In this paper, an economic model of rational choice was presented which suggested that “improving access to family planning can have an ambiguous impact on underage conception and abortion rates” (p. 223). In the rational choice model, the reason for this ambiguity is that access to family planning may increase the likelihood of young people engaging in sexual activity in the first place. I tested this model on a panel data covering UK regions between 1984 and 1997. Over this period, I found no evidence that the provision of family planning reduced either conception or abortion rate for the under 16s.”

Professor Paton concluded in his subsequent research paper:

“The discussion in this paper makes it clear that the sources cited by the Government do not support the Government’s assertion that international research contradicts the findings in Paton (2002). Rather, it would be fairer to state clear that the international research has not come to any strong conclusion relating to the impact of access to family planning services on teenage pregnancy rates. The strongest evidence available in the sources cited by the Government, together with evidence from other well-regarded studies, far from being contradictory, is perfectly consistent with the key finding of Paton (2002) that increased access to family planning does not reduce underage pregnancy rates.”

For more details, please see http://saflearning.blogspot.com/search?q=paton

Simon Blake said...

The national teenage pregnancy strategy is based on international evidence of effectiveness and I trust this research as robust. I believe the principles of the strategy are strong and sound. And the reason I think Polly Toynbee's article was excellent is that it brings into view, how impatient we can become if change does not happen quickly enough.

There is a growing stable of evidence about the importance of access to sexual health services as one part of an effective teenage pregnancy strategy.

As we saw from the teenage pregnancy figures last week, there is an increased proportion of young women who become pregnant and then have an abortion. This is testament to the importance of getting good prevention strategies which we can do in a number of ways - through creating a positive social norm where young people have sex only when they are ready and able to take responsibility for their choices, through helping to strengthen communication between parents, carers and their children, through improved education at school, and by providing access to free, confidential services for young people.

Whatever our individual beliefs about the morality or immorality of sex before marriage, homosexuality, abortion etc - and I have absolutely no idea what your personal views are, I am sure
we both agree that the most important thing we can do for young people is have high expectations for young people, their relationships and their futures, so they too have high expectations for themselves.

The notion of an exciting future continues to be a really important form of contraception for young people. But too many children and young people do not have that sense of optimism and hope, and I believe we must all work together to provide that in our homes, communities, youth groups, churches etc

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