Sunday, 14 December 2008

X factor final and articles in the news

There are two relevant articles in the papers today.  The News of the World interviews with a young mum who has won a Prince's Trust Young Educational Achiever award.  Her successes and her determination are justly rewarded.  She is quoted as saying 'it drives me mad knowing that girls purposely get pregnant just to scrounge benefits'.   There is no evidence that this is the case in the overwhelming majority of cases.  It is a myth that must be busted.

The second article in the Times which discusses the provision of contraception over the counter in pharmacists, helpfully reminded us that whilst the policy lens focuses on young people's sexual activity and teenage pregnancy, the majority of unintended pregnancies are amongst older women.  

And on a related tangent, I like many others enjoyed the X factor final.  I appreciate the genuine warmth and support which Simon Cowell demonstrates for young people - I like Simon's attitude to young people.  In the early rounds when Rachel who made the final 12 auditioned, reflecting on her audition, Simon said 'too many young people don't get a second chance in this country' - I agree with him entirely - and if you don't agree with me, just think would we allow 'mosquito' devices to disburse any other group in our society?   

When I was doing work on sex and relationships education in young offender institutes, I heard time and again, young people telling us that 'resettlement' was tough and they didn't get the support they need.  

I am really pleased Alexandra Burke won - her duet with Beyonce made the hair stand up on the back of my neck.  Public policy on teenage pregnancy emphasises the importance of raising aspirations, having goals and dreams for the future.  Alexandra told us many (many) times about the fact her dream had come true.  I just hope the X factor team have prepared her and her family for life in the public eye.  Some articles in the papers today, and I am sure there are many versions of the same story, written as truth, were evidence that it won't always be an easy ride.  I just hope those stories didn't take the edge off her moment.  

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