Sunday, 26 October 2008

The power of consensus > PSHE will be statutory at last!

For almost a decade, I have been part of a growing consensus that Personal, Social and Health Education, which includes teaching about sex and relationships should be statutory.

Until last Thursday, government had remained unconvinced by the argument presented by young people, teachers, specialist groups and other experts. I was so thrilled when Jim Knight announced last week government had accepted the recommendation of the sex and relationships education expert review group and PSHE will become a statuory curriculum subject.

I am on holiday and so was keeping up to date with the odd look at websites and was so interested in the reporting. Previously, the media generally reported on the divisions between groups, and now they quickly looked for and emphasised the consensus. And there is consensus amongst the absolute majority. Now our task is to make this happen as swiftly and rigorously as possible.

On behalf of the 1500 young people we see everyday at Brook I would like to say thank you to Jim Knight, Minister for Schools and all our colleagues on the expert review group. This will make a real difference to the confidence, self esteem and relationship and sexual choices of young women and young men. It is brilliant.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Well done to the Scouts

I was so pleased to see the Scouts taking a pro-active stance on providing their members with good quality sex and relationships education. So many children and young people are members of the Scout and Guiding movements - it is absolutely right to make sure information about relationships, emotions and sex is a core part of their offer. Well done to the Scouts.

The Guides have got a policy and put in place programmes, now the Scouts, maybe Pony Club should follow the lead and get a policy and education in place too.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Abortion - the real moral argument

When it comes to abortion in the UK, the real moral argument is the discrimination experienced by woman in Northern Ireland as a result of inequitable laws preventing access to abortion in Northern Ireland.

Mary O'Hara puts a compelling and clear case todays' Guardian. It is an important article that sets out so clearly the reason the Abortion Act 0f 1967 must be extended to Northern Ireland.

The vote is on October 22nd. We have one last chance over the next five days to ensure the voice of the majority is heard loud and clear - the inequality must end, the rights of women are not a political football and women in Northern Ireland - real women with real experiences and real feelings - must finally be afforded the same access as women in other parts of the UK. Don't leave this opportunity to chance or expect that other people will make it happen - write to your MP now and make your view known.

Abortion Rights have a draft letter and details of MPs available via their website

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

sexual health researchers rewarded

Last week the scientists who discovered HIV and the researcher who linked human papilloma virus (HPV) and cervical cancer were awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine. This is brilliant news that people that who have made such a contribution to sexual health are being recognised. Profs Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and Luc Montagnier were the first to identify the viral cause of AIDS in 1984. This newly discovered virus was named HIV in 1986 and its identification led to the development of tests and effective antiretroviral medicines increasing the life expectancy of people infected with HIV.

Prof Harald zur Hausen who shares the Nobel prize established a link between certain strains of HPV and cervical cancer which has led to the development of vaccines against HPV. The government are now undertaking a vaccination programme to protect young women against HPV and cervical cancer, which will save hundreds of lives each year.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Brook gets a new look

Thanks to everyone who voted for their favourite logo design.  You can see the one we chose at 

The board of trustees decided on this one because the comments suggested people identified strongly with the image.  Lots of people talked said it was about communication - talking, talking, talking - which is of course what Brook is all about. 

I absolutely love the new logo.  I will be interested to hear what you think.  And we will get the one on this blog changed in the next couple of days - it all just takes time.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Teenage pregnancy myths

Barely a week goes by without a media story about teenage pregnancy so we recently commissioned an Ipsos MORI poll to find out the public’s perception of the teenage pregnancy rate amongst under-16s in England.

Shockingly we found that 95% of people over-estimated the rate and the same amount were unaware of the significant drop in this figure over the last ten years. Even more concerning was that young people themselves thought that the rate was particularly high. 23% of 15-24 year olds thought that the rate of under 16s getting pregnant each year was over 40% - it's actually less than 1%.

With so many stories in the media it’s not surprising that people believe teenage pregnancy to be much more common than it actually is. This is particularly confusing for young people who may well think that teenage pregnancy is normal. It also fuels the myth that teenage pregnancy is escalating and nothing can be done.

Significant reductions in teenage pregnancy in many areas around the country show that change is possible and we now know what works to help young people prevent early pregnancy – good quality sex and relationships education together with access to free and confidential sexual health services.

Friday, 3 October 2008