I have been travelling around the country in the last week and I have heard again at least three times about the breakdown of morality amongst young people and that sex and relationships education is the cause.
So the myth makers continue their work - pronouncing that levels of sexual activity have gone up amongst young people, and that sex and relationships education is the reason behind this increase.
Their premise is that sex and relationships education has been around for over 40 years now, and this government has ploughed more money into this failed approach – failure confirmed apparently by our declining teenage pregnancy rates.
This is, of course, utter nonsense. We don’t have the evidence about levels of sexual activity, and the age of first sex remains broadly similar (the biggest decrease in age, was post war Britain). And sex and relationships education is still not universally established in schools or the community – 22,000 young people recently reported that their SRE is still not good enough. This finding reinforces yet again what we have known for decades.
So join me in eradicating the myths and replace them with facts –
Sex and relationships education is still not universally established in schools – many children and young people get excellent sex and relationships education, and many more get poor, mediocre or just about good enough.
Teenage pregnancy rates are the lowest they have been for twenty years - areas that have strong programmes of sex and relationships education, coupled with good, visible young people’s contraceptive services and supported by an effective youth service continue to see the biggest decreases in teenage pregnancy rates.
If 25% of young people have sex before the age of 16, that means 75% do not – surely that is worth celebrating and acknowledging so we help create a social norm that supports young people in their choices about sex.
And anyway, seems to me many of the same myth makers who want to abolish sex and relationships education haven't spoken to many children and young people for a long time. Some of them also believe smacking children is a good idea and a parents right.