Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Teenage Timebomb

A letter in the Telegraph today showed cross party support for Personal, Social and Health Education to be made a statutory requirement for all children and young people.  With so much support for statutory PSHE I hope it will only be a matter of time before government will respond positively to the voice of experts - not least the voice of children and young people.

I was also pleased to be disturbed by a journalist on august bank holiday monday who wanted us to comment on the Conservative party report on young people's health - pleased because it is so important that all parties pay attention to the public health of children and young people. Statistics are statistics and will always be able to be used in a range of ways, but I do want people to start asking more interesting questions about the reported rise in sexually transmitted infections amongst young people.  

Government has invested significant money in screening, testing and treatment of sexually transmitted infection.  I am pleased that we are seeing a rise in the number of diagnosed infection - the conversation we now need to have is how will we know if we have turned the tide - what data and evidence do we need so in five years time we can look beyond the headline and truly say whether the investment is reducing the levels of STIs amongst young people.

Finally - I was in Paris this weekend, and was struck again by different cultural attitudes to children and young people - a few weeks ago I read an article saying we are a child obsessed nation - if we are, can we be obsessed in ways that enable them to develop and grow with confidence, in ways that ignite curiosity and imagination - because from where I am standing there still seems to be a lot of adults in greenhouses throwing stones at young people.

Friday, 22 August 2008

New resource for working with people with learning disabilities

The sexuality of people with learning disabilities is often ignored, hidden or simply not talked about.   Whilst much excellent practice has been developed in sex and relationships education in both schools and the community, a well intentioned desire to protect, a lack of confidence about when, where and how and a lack of ongoing training and support of professionals, means we still have a long way to go before young people with learning disabilities consistently get the education, services and support they need to be empowered to enjoy and take responsibility for their sexuality.

FPA has produced a compelling self advocacy and educational resource and a powerful set of posters which will help all of us in making empowerment of people with learning disabilities one step closer.  

The link to the demo of the DVD is www.aurion.co.uk/clients/fpademo/flashdemo/default.htm

Image in Action is an organisation that have pioneered drama based work with people with learning disabilities - Brook sells their excellent activity pack On the Agenda, in our publication catalogue, visit www.brook.org.uk to find out more about the resource.

Friday, 1 August 2008

The meaning of SHAG?

When I was nine or ten I asked my brother what shagging was.  He was older than me so he knew apparently.  I am not sure he did know exactly what it was though.   We giggled when he told me his version of what sex was.  Inside I wondered why anyone would 'shag' (whatever it was it sounded weird).  At University I was involved in the SHAG group - we were the sexual health awareness group. 

SHAG has many meanings, but in a country where sex, sexuality and sexual health is still dogged with stigma, shame and prejudice it is not helpful for public health leaders to say SHAG is now an acronym for different sexually transmitted infections (I think it was syphillis, herpes, anal warts and gonorrhoea) as was reported in the press a couple of weeks ago.

Again, important for all of us to remember that most people want to, can be and are responsible about sex, sexual health and contraception.  Lets help them be, by encouraging people to be responsible and creating a positive culture about sex and sexuality.  The alternative is guilt and shame which we know doesn't change behaviour. 

Review of the sexual health and hiv strategy launched

The Independent Advisory Group on sexual health and HIV this week published their review of the sexual health and HIV strategy this week.  The first section set out the changes and developments since the strategy was launched in 2001, and it was a startling reminder of the pace of change in the NHS and Local Authorities. 

The review is worth a read - it sets out the challenges and offers some solutions.  One of the most important of course, is making sure the money that is allocated for sexual health and contraception gets spent on what it it meant to be spent on.