The UK has the highest teen pregnancy rate in all of Europe and the second highest in the developed world after the US. Deciding to address the problem, the UK dedicated millions of pounds to a project aimed at at-risk youth. Now, that project has been abandoned because it was unsuccessful in cutting conceptions. Of the teens who participated in the program, 16 percent became pregnant, compared to 6 percent of teens in other groups considered at risk.
So why has access to contraception, advertising campaigns, and more sex ed caused an increase in teen pregnancy rates? No one really knows exactly, but it appears throwing money at the problem is not the simple solution. Programs were effective when a charismatic staff facilitated access to reproductive health services, connected with the teens, and conveyed a strong and clear message about avoiding unprotected sex. When one or more of these factors was not present, the success rate dropped. In addition, researchers suspect that the program may have been more successful if it had been rooted in smaller communities, instead of implemented by pulling together kids from different places. In fact, they wonder if the at-risk kids might have negatively influenced each other more than the program.
One British commentator thinks the country needs broader policies that don't just take on teen pregnancy, but rather focus on general education and job training for youth.