School Based Clinics: Part Two

October 26, 1999

Each year more and more schools establish school based health clinics to deal with rising teen pregnancy. Schools mistakenly believe that providing teens with greater access to birth control information and devices will help deal with the problem. But study after study shows that these clinics are not as effective as proponents might like to think they are.

One of the most often-cited study involved the experience of the clinic at Mechanics Arts High School in St. Paul, Minnesota. Researchers found that a drop in the number of teen births during the late 1970s coincided with an increase in female participation at the school-based clinics. But at least three important issues undermine the validity of this study.

First, some of the statistics are anecdotal rather than statistical. School officials admitted that the school could not document the decrease in pregnancies. The Support Center for School Based Clinics acknowledged that "most of the evidence for the success of that program is based upon the clinic's own records and the staff's knowledge of births among students. Thus, the data undoubtedly do not include all births."

Second, an analysis of the data found that the total female enrollment of the two schools included in the study dropped from 1268 in 1977 to 948 in 1979. Therefore the reduction in reported births could have been merely attributable to an overall decline in the female population at the school.

Finally, the study actually shows a drop in the teen birth rate rather than the teen pregnancy rate. The reduction in the fertility rate listed in the study was likely due to more teenagers obtaining an abortion.

Each year more schools become convinced that the only way to stem the tide of teen pregnancy is to implement comprehensive sex education and establish school based health clinics. Yet the best evidence doesn't show that they work.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.