A cautionary tale

Proponents of  intervention in an attempt to change human behaviour would be well advised to consider the results of a programme in Western Australia designed to cut the number of teenage pregnancies. More than 1,000 girls in over 50 schools across Western Australia joined the Virtual Parenting Programme. The girls were taught about sexual health, contraception and the financial costs of having a baby. They were also given a virtual baby simulator doll to look after. A doll which cried when it needed feeding or changing. The girls also watched videos of other teenage girls explaining their experiences of being teenage mums.

Sensibly, those running the programme monitored the progress of the girls in order to assess how successful all this education had been. They found that by age 20 8% of those on the programme had given birth at least once and 9% having had an abortion.

Results which may seem to suggest the programme was a success until, that is, the results are compared to those girls who did not take part in the programme. Of those only 4% had given birth and 6% having an abortion.


Published by David Nuttall

Business and Political Consultant

4 thoughts on “A cautionary tale

  1. I have an uncle Harry, who smoked 100 un tipped woodbines since he was 14 and lived to 102! On that basis smoking is safe!?

    That is why we do double blind, randomised trials- there may have been other bias in selection of the people in this approach. ……

    You could learn from this, or you could just continue to make ill informed postings and votes in the parliament!?

      1. THAT was my point …. And nor may the Australian sample!

        The U.K. a teenage pregnancy rate has plummeted in recent years through much concerted local efforts.

        Bury rates (for under 18s, not under 20s- as in oz as they are not teenagers) are :

        Abridged.. Rolling annual rates of conceptions to women aged under 18, 2014 -2015 rates (conceptions per thousand women aged 15 to 17)

        Bury June 2015 23.6
        march 2014 25.5

        I.e. 2.3% from 2.5% vs double or triple that rate in Australia, so maybe we can teach them something?


  2. Ah… the Law of Unintended Consequences. A Law that many in Westminster are utterly unaware of.

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