Saturday, 28 March 2009

Mug Shots

Yesterday the Daily Mail published pictures and profiles of myself along with 6 other colleagues underneath the headline Hijacking of the abortion debate. This followed in the wake of the previous days reporting about the public consultation on advertising condoms before the 9p.m. watershed, and freedom to advertise pregnancy advisory services on TV.

Yet again, the vociferous minority have whipped up a storm and making false claims - 'advertising will cause sexual promiscuity' more sex education than ever before, more contraceptive services than ever before etc etc. Well why if that is the case do young people still tell us that their sex and relationships education isn't good enough - it doesn't address real life dilemmas, and why do we still have services that are not open at the right time in the right place.

Critics of me and my colleagues point to the increased abortion rate as evidence that we have got it wrong and that all our efforts point to increased sexual activity amongst the young. In fact it tells us the opposite. There are young women who are getting pregnant who don't want to be. And therefore we must help young people feel empowered and confident to only have sex they choose, when they are mature enough to enjoy and take responsibility for their sexual choices. We must also ensure there are contraceptive services available and they are skilled to access them. Then we will see a decrease in conception rates.

We have to have high expectations for young people so they have high expectations about relationships and sex for themselves; we have to challenge the critics persistent mantra that there is more sex education and easier access to contraception than ever before; we have to help parents talk to their children about sex and relationships; and we have to ensure we invest in contraception services that are young people friendly.

The media is full of sex. There is no shying away from that. Advertising clear factual information can provide fact and truth in the face of fiction and confusion.

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