Monday, 19 January 2009

Sex and relationships education – the myth makers continue their work

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.


Millie said...

Sometime in 2007 I spoke to a woman from Brook in London( i think) who travelled up to Stockton to interview a few young people about their views of SRE.

I remember looking back on my own SRE education in school which took place back in 2001, long before Brook was established in Stockton, and it was appaulling. The teacher was an elderly gent that couldn't relate to the students, and it was very 'organ based' by that I mean all we were taught was the penis's function, the wombs function and puberty.

We didn't even touch on issues like having the right to say no, or where to go if you needed advice.

From what I've heard from my friends siblings things have changed albeit slowly but surely.

It is so important that young people have the confidence to make their own choices and respect themselves.

I hope these myth makers stop making idiotic statements and go and research the facts before labelling young people!

Anonymous said...
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Simon Blake said...


I couldn't agree more - when people talk about young people as if they are irresponsible it seems to me that they have probably not spoken respectfully to young people recently - all the young people I meet are determined to be good at relationships and good at sex.

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