Tuesday, 21 December 2010
Last night I went for supper with some friends and we had a really interesting discussion about the changing way we are using communication and concluded rightly or wrongly that across the generations we have started to express 'hate' more and more openly - lets use X factor as an example - how many times did you hear people say or write on twitter and facebook I 'hate' one or more of the finalists? Hatred moving easily from person to person as the finalists whittled down. Lots of people denounced as rubbish - mostly because we don't like them, not because they were rubbish (ok lets be honest sometimes it wasn't good); and then being jubilant when they get knocked out of the competition (track facebook comments at the time that Katie Waissel or One Direction were knocked out for example). Wouldn't it be better to say who we did like and who we did want to win, rather than who we 'hate', think is 'rubbish' and want to be knocked out?
If we learn to express dislike as 'hate' easily and can want to see people fail, there are at least two challenges. First we need tough, resilient children who can shrug off 'hate' and succeed even if others do not want them to. Second we need to start talking about what 'hating' really means so it doesn't become the new way of being happy. If anything we dislike or disagree with becomes a target for 'hate' we will struggle to be genuinely happy and to develop young citizens who respect differences and want to see people succeed. We still have a culture in which bullying is rife in schools; and prejudice and discrimination is an everyday reality for so many children. Learning a language and easy expression of 'hate' cannot be a good thing.
So to end 2010 with some loving....it has been quite a year at Brook - the Network of Brook charities decided to become one organisation that will launch in 2011, new contracts, Care Quality Commission registration, new campaigns, publications, conferences, seminars, uncertainty about future funding, young people working full time in the national office, the launch of the worlds first contraception decision tool in partnership with FPA, education, clinical and support services delivered week in week out to thousands of young people, information over the telephone and the web etc etc. And I am immensely proud of everything that staff and volunteers including trustees across the Brook Network have achieved - even if they didn't always do it my way!
Working year of 2010, over and out.
In developing the guidance I had the privilege of working with Trefor Lloyd who has more experience than most of working with boys and young men and one of the highlights of this year has been running a series of workshops with highly skilled professionals across the country and seeing how much more sophisticated our understanding of the need to engage boys and young men is, and the levels of creativity in engaging them effectively.
The guidance addresses topics such as consent, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), sexual violence and teenage pregnancy and is designed to ensure that across the country education and services better meet the needs of boys and young men.
Ensuring we meet the needs of boys and young men is vital to improving the country’s public health. It is particularly important to focus on education which tackles homophobia, sexual consent, infection and asking for support if we are really to make a difference.
Children’s Minister Sarah Teather made the following statement about the guide:
“Teenage pregnancy rates in this country are falling but remain disappointingly high, particularly compared to our European neighbours. Some parts of the country have had great success in reducing teenage pregnancy rates but other areas have not. It is important we understand how and why.
“In the current economic climate it is more important than ever before for professionals to work together. Family and Health Services should be sharing best practice and affordable, innovative solutions for reducing teenage pregnancies and supporting teen parents. It is particularly important for professionals to take account of good practice when developing new services.
“I am glad Brook have chosen to focus on young men in this guide, whose needs are not often given enough priority in teenage pregnancy plans.
“Local authorities are best placed to tailor services to suit the young people in their region; but guides like this provide tangible examples of successful practice.
“I would like to thank Brook for their contribution to this important area.”
You can read the full press release here or find out more about the guidance here.
I am concerned that this year because of the way the Christmas and New Year holidays fall emergency contraception may also be harder to access with some clinics not open for more than 72 hours from Christmas Eve and limited opening times during the break. It is vital therefore that young people are given as much information as we can provide about where and when they can get help during this time if they need it.
Pharmacies will be a vital provider of emergency contraception - here is the link to Ask Brook and the NHS Choices website where you can search for sexual health services by postcode, and if you select emergency contraception this also includes pharmacy provision.
Monday, 13 December 2010
Sunday, 28 November 2010
Friday, 26 November 2010
Tuesday, 23 November 2010
Yesterday the Office National Statistics published their conception statistics for Quarter 3 of 2009. The statistics are really starting to show the impact of sustained activity and resource to educate young people about relationships, sex and contraception, and provide them with the support to make active choices about sex and pregnancy.
· The rate of under-18 conceptions was 36.3 per 1000 girls aged 15-17 – 6.2% lower than the rate of 38.7 for third quarter 2008. For under-18 conceptions, the rolling quarterly average continues to fall and has now fallen over the last eight quarters. The rolling quarterly average for under-18 conceptions is at its lowest rate since quarterly data collection.
· The rate of under-16 conceptions was 7.0 per 1000 girls aged 13-15 – 7.9% lower than the rate of 7.6 for third quarter 2008.
This welcome news comes hot on the heels of an article in Children and Young People Now in which Gill Frances, Chair of the Independent Advisory Group on Teenage Pregnancy, whose work ends in December, warns that without strong national leadership, and continued investment at the local level teenage pregnancy rates will rise. The link to the article is here www.cypnow.co.uk/news/1042283/Teenage-pregnancy-services-risk-funding-diverted/
Monday, 22 November 2010
Now the headline was clear - 'sexual health lessons to be scrapped in review of the curriculum', and understandably there was a little twitter of concern about the implications of this. I read the paper this weekend to ascertain the truth.
The paper Could do better: using international comparisons to refine National Curriculum in England does indeed mention sexual health on page 2. It says;
Adjustments have occurred not only in the 'core' material of the currculum (e.g the removal of the cross curriculum themes and skills: the move from ten levels to eight) but in the repeated addition of new material (e.g functional skills, Citizenship, sexual health as a theme in biology), changes in assessment (e.g the incorporation of mental mathematics in testing......
But that is the only mention, and Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education in his Foreword states that Department for Education will 'launch its own review of the National Curriculum and the remit will explicitly, for the first time, require benchmarking against the most successful school systems.'
So my conclusion is that we don't know whether or not sexual health lessons will be scrapped in the review of the national curriculum, because the review hasn't happened yet - the only exception to my conclusion would be if the government source quoted in the article told The Times more than 'the national curriculum MIGHT be reduced to 20 or 30 pages and gave a more detailed account of what it would include. Unlikely if the review hasn't happened.
For those of you interested in the national curriculum, Oates' paper is worth a read.
Wednesday, 3 November 2010
Talking about their time with Brook one of the volunteers said:
"So its two days before we leave, and as we look around watching everyone type away and talk to each other like in any ordinary office – we remember the things that don’t make this an ordinary office at all. We think about all the crazy things that have happened over the past year, to make it an extraordinary office.
"That meeting room has seen hundreds of meetings between us, in building the Big issues don’t have to be a big deal campaign to what it is today. It echoes of pitches from agencies, decision making, debating on the right copy, slogan, colour and theme. And if you listen hard enough, you can hear hammering and noise from the back of the office where we were preparing for the Stockton launch making piñatas and a face in the wall – ready to take the campaign to Stockton.
"Stockton didn’t know what hit them when we arrived – in two days we spread the message of self-esteem to the young people of Stockton resulting in 25 young people getting tested for Chlamydia, giving over 150 young people goodie bags with details of Brook’s local services, condoms and educational leaflets, and collectively speaking to at least 200 young people. It was inspiring to see our campaign in action and to see other young people’s reactions to it - especially when they came back later in the day just to say ‘hello’ wearing our t-shirts. It was a really positive two days and all the hard work definitely paid off.
"Through volunteering at Brook, we’ve had an eclectic mix of things to do and places to go. Seen cities we’ve never been to before, and been able to represent the views of young people. Brook provides a really nurturing environment to volunteer in and has allowed us to grow and develop as individuals. We’ve been able to give speeches about issues we’re passionate about, network at Brook 100 events and meet people we’d never have met if not in Brook.
"Talking of meeting new people, a key date in the diary was 10 September 2010 – the day JLS came to national office and talked to us about sexual health. They were really cool and believed in what we’re doing at Brook.
"They share our aspirations for young people’s sexual health, which is to see more young people looking after themselves and their sexual wellbeing. The impact that they have was evident in Stockton, where we saw the interest young people had on a campaign supported by JLS.
"Our time at Brook has been a journey, taking the rough with the smooth and learning about ourselves every step of the way. We wish the next group of nine volunteers all the best in their journey. We’re sure they’ll all shine as a group as well as individuals – and will continue to make this an extraordinary office."
Friday, 22 October 2010
I am taking part in a debate called Too much, too young: why is policy obsessed with teenage mums? If there is a policy obsession, I hope that this continues through the deep public spending cuts. Whilst many young people are making active choices that are right for them, far too many young people can’t access contraception easily and many come to Brook unsure if they had sex or consented to it, without the confidence to take control of their sexual lives.
Throughout October and November The Independent is publishing a number of blogs from speakers on the issues – to read my article please click here.
Wednesday, 20 October 2010
Thursday, 7 October 2010
The good news is there were reassuring noises being made at the Tories about the importance of sex and relationships education for children and young people, and about the inclusion of sexual health as part of the public health service (white paper to be published this year). Of course we must now all be working hard to ensure the translation of these reassuring noises into policy and practical delivery - and particularly in the context of the Public Health White Paper we must not lose sight of the fact that sexual health is about more than sexually transmitted infections - contraception and abortion services, underpinned by a sex positive approach are an integral part of a successful public health approach.
Sexualisation of young people, particularly via new media and phone technologies was a heated area of debate and discussion in the bar - clearly a vital area that we must be on top of. Of course young people need to know and understand the legal context and the social and personal impact of sharing their own pictures willingly (now), or distributing pictures/stories of others. When thinking about the challenges technological developments present we must keep this in context and our wits firmly around us. Using text, the web and other new media is for some a consenting act and for others a new mode of an age old problem - sexual harassment and sexual bullying.
If you are interested in thinking more about the issues, here are links to a documentary and an article in the Times Educational Supplement on the issue of sex, pornography and new media. I was interviewed for both of these.
- Weblink to Radio 4 documentary ‘Sex, porn and teenagers’: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00v1nkx
- Times Education Supplement, 1 October 2010: http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6059641
Monday, 4 October 2010
Sexual and reproductive health and HIV are an important part of the nation’s public health. There will be real benefits from including these within the scope of national and local work to improve public health.
Please click here to see the joint paper which outlines why sexual and reproductive health must be prioritised.
To find out more about sexual health in your local area visit http://www.shoutloud.org.uk/. SHout Loud is a website for individuals and communities to have a say about sexual health and to receive information updates as they become available.
Wednesday, 15 September 2010
I have come across the following articles and letters which are interesting perspectives. I was privileged almost a decade ago to work with a multi-faith group to develop a framework for teaching about sex and relationships in a multi-faith and multi-cultural society. The book, Faith, Values and Sex and Relationships Education published by the National Children's Bureau. The links at the end of the blog provide a link through to the factsheet that came from that work, and some recent case studies of practical work that is being done working with Faith Communities and teaching about sex and relationships.
Report in the telegraph on survey about Roman Catholics views on traditional teaching about sexuality issues, including contraception and homosexuality.
An open letter from FPA and NAT about the pope and his teachings
An article by Polly Toynbee
And finally, here is an excellent factsheet and some case study examples from the Sex Education Forum about how to teach about sex and relationships in a multi-faith and multi-cultural society
Monday, 13 September 2010
Friday, 10 September 2010
Thursday, 9 September 2010
Teenage pregnancy and young people's sexual health has long needed celebrity support and leadership and now at last we have it - incredibly high profile role models who millions of young people respect (and adore) who have already starting speaking out loudly, confidently and intelligently about the need to improve our culture towards sex in this country so that young people can enjoy, take responsibility for, and protect their sexual health.
And in our recent meetings it has been clear that Aston, Oritse, Marvin and JB all know their stuff and they mean business - they know there is no quick fix; today when asked what other causes they may support they said (about sexual health) 'we are in this for the long haul, for as long as it takes'. It is clear that all of them have taken time to understand the issues behind the teenage pregnancy and STI statistics and all of them talk passionately about the need for change.
All of us at Brook are looking forward to working with them over the coming months, years and decades - as long as it takes - so this peculiar 'Benny Hill culture' about all things sexual becomes a thing of the past and all young people get the education, services and support they need so they can have sex when they are ready, with someone they trust, safely.
Sunday, 29 August 2010
Wednesday, 25 August 2010
While the headlines reported on the increasing rates, much of the rise in the overall figures will also be a result of increased awareness and testing which is good news. Quarterly data also shows that teenage pregnancy rates and abortion rates have fallen, showing that we must continue to support young people to make good decisions about their physical and emotional health.
Young people tell us their sex and relationships education (SRE) is too little, too late and too biological and it needs to address emotions and relationships more effectively. Done well, SRE provides an important antidote to the confusing sexual messages they receive in the playground and from the media day in day out.
We urge government to make sex and relationships education statutory in all schools, and to ensure that young people's sexual health is a core part of the forthcoming National Public Health Service.
Thursday, 19 August 2010
Friday, 23 July 2010
Wednesday, 14 July 2010
Tuesday, 13 July 2010
Thursday, 1 July 2010
Sexual health charities Brook and FPA today launched My Contraception Tool (v1.0) a unique, evidence-based web tool designed to support people’s contraceptive choices by evaluating their preferences and priorities as well as their physical needs. This new web tool is expected to fundamentally change contraceptive consultations - empowering people’s choice and giving invaluable support to busy health professionals.
Eighteen months in development, and launched simultaneously on both organisations’ websites, the tool combines specialist software, research, expertise in decision making and sexual health and months of user involvement and consultation. Using the latest research into every method of contraception, the circumstances, medical history and personal preferences are input by the user online. These data are then processed and each contraceptive method is ranked in order to suit individual needs.
People can log on to My Contraception Tool at www.brook.org.uk/mycontraceptiontool or www.fpa.org.uk/mycontraceptiontool and answer questions about their lifestyle, medical history and their priorities in terms of contraception.
For the full press release please click here.
All Different, All Beautiful is a personal development programme aimed at vulnerable and at risk young people in the Wirral. It is aimed at small groups of vulnerable 13 to 19 year olds and runs in schools, hostels and communities with high levels of deprivation. A series of sessions delivered over five days helps participants to explore values, interpersonal skills, confidence and self-esteem within the context of sexual health and relationships.
A key part of All Different, All Beautiful was the development by Brook Wirral of Bitesize Brook, an innovative approach which provides a learning opportunity for young people. BiteSize events take place in large, open areas and enables young people to access information about STIs including HIV, risk taking, alcohol and other drugs in fun, interactive and memorable ways, as well as acting as a bridge to the range of support services available to them in the community.
Last year we saw the roll out of BiteSize Brook through our network, providing training and resources to several other Centres to deliver the programme – a brilliant example of sharing best practice.
The Pamela Sheridan Award is a prestigious national award for excellence in sex and relationships education. Brook Wirral were joint winners of the award this year with Education for Choice. See the link to the full press release here.
Tuesday, 22 June 2010
Friday, 11 June 2010
You can find out more about the awards at www.charityawards.co.uk or about the work at www.fpa.org.uk
Tuesday, 25 May 2010
Tuesday, 18 May 2010
It has been a good year for condoms the regulations were finally changed and condoms can now be advertised on TV subject to some being kept away from the under 10s and complying with strict rules on taste, decency and socially responsible advertising.
Given the changes to condom advertising, Durex, has this week launched a competition to 'create the next ad' asking people to create the next TV ad for Durex. You can find details at www.durex.co.uk/durextv
Wednesday, 21 April 2010
Wednesday, 7 April 2010
I was hopeful with good cause I think - we have loads of evidence about the importance of SRE in preventing teenage pregnancy and improving young lives and there is a strong broad consensus amongst children, parents and professionals that it is important in helping keep children safe from harm.
This section of the Children, Schools and Families Bill must not be allowed to fall at the last hurdle. Regardless of the politics we must hang our heads in shame if we let down another generation of children and young people by failing to ensure sex and relationships education is statutory in every school.
It is inconceivable that more young people could be allowed to experience the shame, fear and embarrassment about sex and their bodies that we see at Brook clinics every single day. Sex and relationships education is vital to protect children and young people from harm and enables them to enjoy their relationships safely. It is right and moral that schools provide it to complement and supplement what children are taught at home or to fill the gap if they are not.
The link to Brook’s full statement is here:
Monday, 29 March 2010
Every woman has the right to make informed choices about legal, safe and confidential abortion. The ability to choose legal abortion allows young women to make their own decisions about their futures, including when and whether to have children, and prevents risk to their physical and emotional health.
There is no scientific evidence to support a reduction of the 24-week time limit and reducing it would affect women at all ages of the spectrum, particularly some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged women. This may result in women being rushed into decisions about abortions or forced to continue a pregnancy against their will.
To see the full article please click here.
Sunday, 21 March 2010
to provide sexual health and relationship information in innovative and creative ways
to identify excellent projects being carried out in local areas such as the sexual bullying project and training up staff across Brook to replicate them quickly across the country
to campaign fearlessly for improved sexual health with young people at the heart of all campaigns
The event was great fun and was hosted by Sam Roddick, creator and owner at Coco De Mer (www.coco-de-mer.com). In the introductory speeches Sam told guests of how she has been inspired from the Brook v talent volunteers - by their energy, insightfulness and passion. She reminded guests of the importance of listening to and learning from young people and supporting Brook's work because it reduces pain and increases confidence and pleasure.
Alaina one of Brook's full time young volunteers told guests that we must do more to provide information and education to young people at a younger age, at the time that is right and in ways that meet their needs. In my remarks I asked people to join Brook in changing our ridiculous culture towards sex and sexuality and that we need to brave and bold in saying enough is enough - we cannot allow another generation of young people to grow up without accurate information and a positive culture which says sex must always be consensual, based on respect and communication and between people who are able to both enjoy and take responsibility for it. The time for change is now. If you want to help us in achieving long term cultural change do find out more about or become a member of the Brook 100 Club.
If you want to become a member of the Brook 100 Club please email email@example.com to find out more - you can also go onto our just giving site www.justgiving.com/Brook-100-Club to donate to Brook. You can also fundraise to help achieve our goal of enabling young people to enjoy their sexuality without harm. Contact Emily if you want to find out more (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Wednesday, 17 March 2010
One of the key changes was around the relaxing of the watershed on condom advertising.
The launch of the new codes followed a public consultation to which Brook contributed and young people working with Brook were also involved in work through the Independent Advisory Group on Sexual Health and HIV (SHIAG).
SHIAG challenged the guidance on condom advertising and restrictions on showing a condom out of its wrapper. The group was concerned there is still embarrassment around condoms, which inhibits the normalisation of condom use, and called for the guidance to be reviewed.
A survey carried out by young people at Brook in 2007 showed that most young people (91 per cent) were unaware that guidance exists prohibiting showing unwrapped condoms on television and many (90 per cent) thought that this was wrong. 81 per cent felt that allowing condoms and condom use to be shown in advertisements and programmes would encourage young people who were sexually active to use condoms.
In addition young people thought that condoms should be shown on TV at peak times but also that this should be scheduled sensitively and appropriately. The research found that putting information into adverts round peak-time viewing for teenagers – for instance Coronation Street, Hollyoaks and Skins – or feeding it into the story line would hit the target audience and avoid offence.
Relaxing the rules around advertising condoms would normalise condom use and make young people feel more positive and confident about using them and carrying them.
Improving knowledge about contraception is key to reducing unplanned pregnancy and rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) – condoms protect against both.
PJ, one of Brook’s young volunteers who was involved in the work through SHIAG, said: “It was great to be involved in the process – this is something that is aimed at and will benefit other young people so it was good to be able to input my ideas.”
The new Codes will come into force on 1 September 2010.
Friday, 5 March 2010
All the shortlisted nominees deserve the recognition, congratulation, applause and cheers they received last night, and special congratulations to the winners. The award winners are:
•UK sexual health professional of the year – Gail McVicar, Swindon Borough Council
•UK sexual health project of the year – In Touch, Leonard Cheshire Disability
•Young person of the year – James Langley, Terrence Higgins Trust Young Leaders programme
•Brook employee of the year – Arlene McLaren, Brook Northern Ireland
•Brook innovation of the year – Brook Blackburn with Darwen, Engage Project. This award was voted for on the night.
Thank you to Carrie Quinlan for hosting the evening, Tracey Cox, Jasmine Lowson, Zoe Margolis and Matt Rawle, our Brook ambassadors for presenting the awards and contributing so brilliantly to the evening. Also thank you to Lizzie Emeh who performed tracks from her fantastic new album, Loud and Proud.
I was delighted to see such a high standard of nominations showing the fantastic work that people are doing for young people all over the country every day.
The judging panel also included many key figures working in sexual health as well as young people and I would like to thank all those involved.
And thank you to my team and the conference organisers, NSA, who made the event run smoothly - you were brilliant. Final thank you to our sponsors and supporters.
Wednesday, 24 February 2010
Since 1998 teenage pregnancy rates for under 18s have reduced by 13.3% to 40.4 per 1,000 for 2008. This is good news and we now need to continue doing what we know works; improving access to sexual health services, good quality sex and relationships education in school and the community and supporting parents to talk to their children about relationships.
I really welcome the refresh of the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy and the renewed commitment to young people’s sexual health. There is some excellent work taking place in some areas and what we need to do now is to learn from those areas who have seen the biggest decreases and make that excellent work the standard for all teenage pregnancy programmes.
Yesterday the Children, Schools and Families Bill which includes making Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) Education statutory completed its report stage and third reading in the House of Commons.
We eagerly await its progress through the House of Lords and the Bill receiving Royal Assent before it becomes law. Making PSHE Education statutory will provide a clear framework and ensure that it will be inclusive of every child and young person combining legal/civil rights, health, and cultural and religious perspectives.
Every day at Brook we see young people whose education about relationships and sex has not been good enough. For too long young people have been saying that the sex education they receive is too little, too late and too biological because schools are only required to teach what is in the science curriculum. Statutory PSHE will mean that all children and young people will receive the education and information they are entitled to.
Tuesday, 23 February 2010
Has the amendment laid down by Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, that provides school with right to teach PSHE Education in line with their religious character really provided an opt out for faith schools?
Was the amendment necessary? Not in my view. Is the amendment devastating? Probably not as long as schools know what they must deliver. Will it reassure some? Probably.
It is always important to know what you are arguing about. It seems to me that PSHE Education is becoming a battleground for age old arguments about state aided 'faith based schools'. Regardless of the school, PSHE Education has to be as good as it can be, and that is what this legislation must seek to ensure.
Legislating for Statutory PSHE Education is morally and socially right. It should have happened at least five years ago and must get through now. If it gets through, it will bring about systemic change and real, lasting benefit to children and young people in line with the Every Child Matters agenda. Let's keep our eyes and our minds on the big prize, statutory PSHE that will help drive standards up. This legislation, with all its limitations is worth our support.
Monday, 22 February 2010
Sunday, 21 February 2010
'Mis-selling sex': calling for collaboration between broadcasters, producers and organisations like Brook
Brook has been working with DH and DCSF following some research called Mis selling sex which analysed the sexual content of TV programmes, and showed that of all the sexual content on the programmes audited, only 7% had safer sex messages.
There is a really interesting article in the Observer today (I tried to get the link for this blog, but doing this via phone and it won't work for me) called Are Britain's teenage girls really in crisis? It is well worth reading as I am sure the book Living Dolls: the return of sexism by Natasha Walter will be too. The article concludes with the paragraph;
'The message is that for modern teeange girls the encouragement to do better, look better and have more has become almost unbearable. They need help and they need it urgently - not only for themselves but for the next generation, whose mothers they will be'.
And I agree with much of the sentiment in the article. And we have to be really clear here, the arguments about whether teenage girls are the most vulnerable group in society need to be heard. But for me, what i hear from young people and staff at Brook is that it is gender - growing up as a boy, or a girl and what that means that we have to address. We have to really think about what we are teaching boys and girls, and what boys and girls are learning about themselves, their bodies, their aspirations and about sex. And unless we do so we will miss the point in the development and implementation of youth policy.
That is why Brook's conference this year is on gender - at this conference we will premier a film about gender made by young people who work at Brook and have a real opportunity to spend quality time focusing on how we put gender back central stage in a way that is relevant and meaningful for this century. You can see the trailer for the film on You Tube by searching for Brook Gender 2010 and you can find out more about the conference by visiting brook.org.uk
Tuesday, 9 February 2010
The government released, to The Sun, following an Freedom Of Information request, figures about the rates of pregnancy amongst 10-15 year olds between 2000 and 2007. The resulting headline focussed on the youngest children about whom data was released. Leaving aside for a minute the fact that the figures were mangled and presented an extremely inaccurate picture, I ask you to consider what anyone could hope to gain from a story about pregnant 10 year olds.
Of course it is not acceptable that even a single 10 year old has ever become pregnant. No sensible child, young person or adult wants that. It is particularly terrible because we are not talking about teenage pregnancy, ‘over sexualised’ children, or any other ‘Broken Britain’ indicator. We are talking about children who have been abused.
The abuse of children has been used to score a cheap point about teenage pregnancy rates and the government policy on teenage pregnancy. And be in no doubt that some journalists want to track down some of these children. Brook’s press office received calls yesterday asking our help in providing ‘case studies’ of pregnant 10 year olds.
This deliberate misrepresentation of facts, the sensationalising of the impact of sex and relationships education and misreporting of the truth about teenage pregnancy creates fear and misunderstanding that permeates throughout society and fails to protect children and young people. Brook carried out some research last year which showed that 95% of us seriously overestimate the numbers of young people who become pregnant. Small wonder, when some part of the media continue to insist on inaccurate scaremongering fronted as public interest journalism.
And for the record, most young people under the age of 16 do not have sex and our teenage conception rates have, overall, decreased by 10.5% since 1998. Higher numbers of young people having an abortion if they get pregnant, which means that overall we have about a 24% reduction in teenage births in England.
We need to build on this success and ensure that young people are only having sex when they are able to consent, enjoy and take responsibility for it, and we need to ensure that young people are able to use contraceptive services and contraception effectively when they do have sex.
Sunday, 7 February 2010
Wednesday, 3 February 2010
Wednesday, 27 January 2010
“There has been duplication of effort. The programme has not always been as efficient or effective as possible. It was clear from the National Audit Office report there is much to learn and much to do. The good news is that much is already underway to make improvements.
We support the PAC conclusion that better commissioning must take place. We must develop services that make sense for young people and get the best value for each pound spent. As such a national online testing service for all, regardless of where they live, should be commissioned as a matter of urgency.
We cannot throw the baby out with the bath water. The National Chlamydia Screening Programme must continue so we can find and treat infections that would otherwise have gone undiagnosed. The programme is one plank, along with the teenage pregnancy strategy that will ensure continuing improvements in young people’s sexual health.'
Monday, 25 January 2010
An article in the Independent on Sunday reports....
Thursday, 14 January 2010
Sunday, 10 January 2010
Tuesday, 5 January 2010
Her MBE was awarded for services to young people's healthcare. I am delighted that her work has been recognised for a number of reasons;
1) because Rhiannon really deserved it - she is talented, inspired and inspiring and shows exceptional compassion, wisdom and tells it as it is, nicely.
2) because it is great that the issue of young people's healthcare is recognised as important in this way
3) because it is absolutely right that young people should be honoured. Too often honours are awarded when many many years of service have been accumulated. And whilst this is right to a point, rewarding young people who have shown exceptional talent and motivation relatively early in their career can inspire them and others around them to become even more brilliant, and become the next generation of innovators, leaders and changemakers.
Well done Rhiannon. It is January, so detox for me at the moment, but I will raise my fizzy water for you tonight.