Saturday, June 3, 2017

Stephen Franks: How many naggers could we measure and dump?

The Times of London reports on correlations between teen pregnancy rates and cuts on spending for teen pregnancy advising and free contraception.

The wonderful news –
“Teenage pregnancy rates have been reduced because of government cuts to spending on sex education and birth control for young women, according to a study that challenges conventional wisdom. 
The state’s efforts to teach adolescents about sex and make access to contraceptives easier may have encouraged risky behaviour rather than curbed it, the research suggests.”
Of course people warned that the cuts would lead to runaway teen pregnancy. The study is sure to be attacked by those still employed in handing out contraceptives and advice.

Perhaps this apparent effect is just coincidence. Teen pregnancy rates have been falling anyway, and not just in the UK. The study reportedly took that into account.

“The number of pregnancies, however, has fallen at a significantly faster rate since the grants were scrapped in 2010, in spite of critics’ dire prophecies … the decline was steepest in areas where councils slashed their teenage pregnancy budgets most aggressively.

The report quotes one of the researchers –

“Mr Wright said that the effect was fairly small but had remained robust after all of the pair’s adjustments to the data. “It’s quite a surprising result, so we’ve tried to do a lot of different tests to see whether we could explain it away effectively,” he said."

The report mentions other authoritative evidence to similar effect –

“A study in 2009 looking at a typical Teenage Pregnancy Unit campaign, which included SRE [Sex and Relationship Education]and access to family planning in schools, found that it resulted in significantly higher pregnancy rates. Meanwhile a gold-standard Cochrane review of SRE published last year found that the measure had “no apparent effect on the number of young women who were pregnant”.

New Zealand employs thousands of worthies exploiting politicians’ fears of being called uncaring, Many of them will be well-meaning, and genuinely believe they help. Some will be invaluable. Others are simply our generation’s burden of useless priests, battening onto modern  superstitions and fears.

There is a whole industry of counsellors whose effectiveness has never been established. We have EECA nannies telling us to save electricity. All over the country local councils are ordering us to recycle our rubbish and to save water, when for most New Zealanders at most times both activities just waste resources. The energy used and the alternatives people turn to,  may harm the planet more than the recycling can ever save.

And beyond that we have a vast new cadre of people peddling new pieties – including health and safety compliance officers,  professional identity measurers and consultation full-timers, diversity zealots and governance advisers.

All should routinely be put under a sceptical secular microscope. It is bad enough to be wasting resources on them. But terrible if they add to the misery or wickedness they claim to be protecting us from.

It would not be surprising if a rigorous study found that Dame Susan Devoy’s sermons on racism have the same effect on most of us as telling toddlers not to stick beans up their noses – result, more beans up noses.

Stephen Franks is a principal of Wellington law firm Franks & Ogilvie and a former MP. He blogs at


Unknown said...
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Nicely put Stephen.

Peter Farley said...
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100% right, but what chance the media flappers will start asking the right questions?

Unknown said...
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> local councils are ordering us to recycle our rubbish

Common rhetoric; but what are they DOING ? The Rodney council, and then R Hide's SuperCity, used to collect scrap paper separately from glass & metals. But now – without any consultation that I noticed – they have issued huge wheeled bins from which they dump into a driver-only truck a mixture of paper and broken glass, with tins etc mixed in. The media have not told us how this new mixture is separated – if indeed it is.