Ukraine's high teenage pregnancy rate may be due to insufficient sex education
Sex education is failing Ukrainian youth. Source:

The teenage pregnancy rate in Ukraine is five times higher than the rate in developed countries, a phenomenon said to be fuelled by insufficient sex education in schools.

Citing data from the United Nations Population Fund, the Kyiv Post reported the country’s adolescent birth rate (the annual number of live births to adolescent women between 15 and 19 years old) to be a staggering 27 in every 1,000.

In countries like the Netherlands, Norway, German and Sweden, the rate is significantly lower at five in every 1,000.

The publication blamed this on poor sex education in local schools, and suggested a similar trend in other post-Soviet states.

Ukraine, it added, has been delaying sex education in an attempt to push back children’s first sexual experiences and reduce sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancies. 

Children are supposed to receive basic sex education within the “Health Protection” and “Anatomy” national curriculum courses.

But according to data from U-Report, a free online messaging platform run by United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), only 42 percent of Ukrainian teenagers actually take the courses.

On top of that, the courses are poorly designed, Kyiv Post reported.

Daniil Stolbunov, an activist for Teenergizer, a youth group that promotes the rights of teenagers, says the post-Soviet mentality is why, “parents and teachers don’t talk with children about sex at all, or raise this issue when it’s too late.”

“Teenagers know how to divide, but do not know how to use a condom,” Stolbunov said.

“Such information can’t be a luxury for teenagers,” Svitlana Bogdan, the vice director for educational work at Kyiv Gymnasium No. 179, told Kyiv Post. 

Bogdan invited tutors from “The Hidden Side of Love – a charity that aims to protect young people against domestic abuse in romantic relationships –  to give classes on healthy relationships and safe sex.

Students attended 12 classes over three months as part of the course, where they learnt about the basics of female and male psychology, the creation of healthy sexual relations, self-development, and the importance of personal boundaries.

Common unhealthy stereotypes are discussed during a lecture called “Sex and Love Myths”. Problematic myths such as “men and women can’t be just friends” and “a man will hit a woman if he loves her” are challenged in the lecture to promote a better attitude towards love. 

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