Anyone who remembers freshers week, or their first holiday with friends, and the extreme fatigue one has at the end of the week will empathise with how I felt climbing into my bed when I got home from the Conservative Party conference earlier this week knowing that the party conference season was over for another year.
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