Failed £6m project sees teen pregnancy increase

A Government-backed project designed to curb teenage pregnancies has seen them more than double, it emerged today.

The Young People’s Development Programme (YPDP) tried to reduce conceptions, drug abuse and truancy among vulnerable young people, at a cost of £2,500 each.

But at the end of the scheme there were more teenage pregnancies among the youngsters who had taken part than among a comparable group who hadn’t.

The project included giving teenagers sex education and advice about contraception.

A total of 16 per cent of those on the YPDP became pregnant compared with just six per cent in the comparison group.

A Department of Health spokesman said: “This pilot was based on a successful American programme. It did not appear to reduce teenage pregnancy so we will not be taking it any further.”

The Government’s Teenage Pregnancy Strategy aimed to cut the 1998 rate of teen conceptions in half by 2010, but looks likely to fall desperately short of this target.

The strategy includes handing out contraceptives and information about sex to young people but critics say is not working.

Economics Professor David Paton, an outspoken critic of the Government’s approach, recently described it as “absolutely disastrous”.

Prof Paton, of Nottingham University, commented last year: “There has been a tendency for the Government’s teenage pregnancy strategy to focus on creating schemes where teenagers can get the morning after pill or other forms of family planning at school or clinics.

“The danger with this sort of approach is that it can lead to an increase in risky sexual behaviour amongst some young people.”

Despite the evidence that the Government has failed to significantly decrease teen pregnancies it has continued to push on with widespread free contraception and sex education.

In February the Department of Health announced a further £20.5 million investment into the provision of sex clinics, long-term contraceptive implants and advertising campaigns.

The Government has also decided to make sex education a statutory part of the national curriculum, beginning with primary school children.

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