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Mark Ellse: Facebook has halved the teen pregnancy rate


Many of us will have noticed the reporting of the recent massive fall in the teenage pregnancy rate. From 1969 when the recording of statistics began, the under-eighteen teenage pregnancy stat has hovered at about 45 conceptions per thousand. Steadily for nearly forty years, one girl in 20 under the age of eighteen has been getting pregnant.

As the Office of National Statistics says, teenage pregnancy and early motherhood can be associated with poor educational achievement, poor physical and mental health, social isolation, poverty and related factors. The problems caused by teenage pregnancies are obvious and, as one often sees, those who believe in the power of the State have been keen to intervene to solve the problem.

The story went that children’s increased sexual activity was an inevitable result of earlier maturation. Sexual feelings, we were told, were arising earlier and were irresistible to young minds. There was also, and still is, the liberal view that denying a sexual outlet is damaging.

There was a clamour for sex education starting from the primary school. Sex education would provide enlightenment and wisdom so that children could make ‘informed choices’. This was the only way to protect children against the most obvious inconvenience of early sexual activity.

Contraception, a necessity to the  fashionable way of thinking, became more available. Sexual health clinics proliferated and welcomed the young. Condoms were given friendly branding by Richard Branson and girls practised putting them over bananas in sex education lessons.

A problem arose along the way. A wise woman by the name of Victoria Gillick was put very firmly in her place when she voiced the views of many that the parents rather than the State were those who had the best interests of the child at heart and should therefore be those who decided whether their children should have access to contraception. Mrs Gillick lost and the Gillick ruling had the shameful effect of enabling doctors and ‘health workers’ to supply contraception freely to a child of any age with no reference to the family.

And what effect did all this state-sponsored sex industry have on the pregnancy rate? Absolutely none. The pregnancy rate stood at one in 20 until, in 2006, an earthquake happened when Facebook started and caught on.

The rise of Facebook meant that, instead of having sex, children were at their computers. The conception rate halved and is still falling. The urges that were so powerful, that couldn’t have been resisted, that had thwarted the power of the State and all those ‘relationship’ lessons, had succumbed to a bit of distraction.

Of course, most of us can think of better distractors from sex than social media but the principle has now been established. Twenty-first century Britain has learned that, if you occupy children with other things, resisting sexual activity is not impossible, is not damaging but is simply proper and normal. What could be more in the best interests of a child?

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Mark Ellse
Mark Ellse
Mark Ellse is a physicist and author. He is a former headmaster, independent school inspector and A level chief examiner.

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