Saturday, 20 September 2008

Stories, lies and misconceptions

There have been at least two bits of substantial research this year that has shown worryingly low levels of knowledge about sex and sexuality amongst young people.  Playground stories about sex - what it is, who does it, how you should last for - about sexuality - women like sex less than men, gay men are all perverts etc and about contraception - standing up after drinking diet coke, having sex for the first time.   

And we see this everyday at Brook with some young men and young women not knowing the basics about how their bodies work, or being afraid to say yes, to say no or to say not this, but I will do that, because they will be seen as frigid, a slag, a poof or a girl.

So it saddens me to hear adults say young people know more than them, as if access to the internet has changed what we have known for decades - that without open conversations about sex and sexuality, bodies and growing up, children and young people pick up misinformation from friends, the television, and their families.  Parents and schools have to work together so their children are confident and happy and know that when they have sex, it should be sex they choose, sex they want and sex they can take responsibility for.  

Friday, 19 September 2008

hysterical headlines - again

Yesterday the papers went mad yet again at the publication of a simple, easy and straightforward comic published by fpa ( which asks children to think about growing and changing so they do not feel worried about changes that happen to their body.

I was irritated by the headlines because any sensible parent reading it will think it is exactly the sort of thing that can be done easily with their children to help them learn about their bodies and their families.   There was, however, a distinct glimmer of hope when a long time anti sex education campaigner accepted that the comic was mostly sensible and didn't cover anything inappropriate.

The really peculiar bit is reading a headline that promises controversy, and reading the article and finding it boring. To look on the bright side, seems to me the very headlines designed to politicise the issue actually help normalise education about bodies and growing up.