Most school boards across Canada deliver sexual health education programs based upon Comprehensive Sex Education. These programs are based upon “sexual rights” and assume that youth have the right to be sexually active. In an effort to reduce risks the emphasis of the program is on condom use.
A research report created by The Institute for Research & Evaluation examined the 103 CSE programs from across the world that have been used to advocate for the use of CSE programs. To be identified as a successful program the program had to meet one of the four key indicators:
- Reduced teen pregnancy 12 months after the program was delivered,
- Reduced teen STI rates for a 12 months after the program was delivered.
- Improved teen condom use for a 12 months after the program was delivered,
- Reduced teen sexual activity for a 12 months after the program was delivered,
…without having a negative result in another area. For example if condom use improved over 12 months but STI rates increased the program did not qualify as improving sexual health.
Only Six out of 103 school-based CSE studies (U.S. and non-U.S. combined) showed positive results, and sixteen studies found harmful CSE impacts. Looking just at the U.S., of the 60 school-based CSE studies, three found sustained main effects on a key protective indicator (excluding programs with negative effects) and seven studies found harmful impact.
Conclusions. Some of the strongest, most current school-based CSE studies worldwide show very little evidence of real program effectiveness. In the U.S., the evidence, though limited, appeared somewhat better for abstinence education.
Re-Examining the Evidence for School-Based Comprehensive Sex Education: A Global Research Review
Irene H. Ericksen, M.S.* and Stan E. Weed, Ph.D.**