Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Relationships and sex education: a drop of 25% in teenage pregnancy rates over 10 years, that's progress

There was an article published in the Daily Mail at the weekend stating that sex education has had little impact on teenage pregnancy rates over the past 40 years.

In fact the statistics confirm what those of us who work in sexual health or with young people already know that teenagers are less likely to get pregnant now than they were 40 years ago, and looking at the statistics from 1998 when the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy was launched there is a clear decline in rates. Between 1998 and 2010, the conception rate for under 16s has fallen by 22%, and the rate for under 18s has fallen by 25%.

The Teenage Pregnancy Strategy focused on and highlighted the good work being done, and means that we are clear about what works to improve young people's sexual health and wellbeing; improving access to sexual health services, an open and accepting attitude toward teenage sexuality; good quality sex and relationships education in school and the community; and supporting parents to talk to their children about relationships.

We know how to reduce rates of unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, and we need to get on with making that happen consistently across the UK.

You can read Brook’s factsheet on the teenage pregnancy rates online here.

Simon and Jonny take to the hills and the roads

Over the next few weeks my partner and I are going to undertake two fundraising challenges to raise money for Brook's work. This weekend I bought all the gear to hide the fact I have no idea - Our Just Giving page tells you more and has a photo of me in my new outfit - please do support us if you can - we thank you in advance! www.justgiving.com/simonandjonnyagain

Monday, 27 August 2012

Say yes, say no, say maybe - young people and legitimate consent

This week some of the statements about rape have been seriously worrying.  Poor sexual etiquette and legitimate rape are probably two of the most idiotic phrases I have heard for a long while.  Consent legitimates sexual activity between people - it is the only basis under which all sex should take place.  Rape takes place when consent has not been given and therefore can never be legitimate. To describe non consensual sex as poor sexual etiquette is just plain wrong.

The Conservatives have rightly identified that more needs to be done to ensure young people learn about and understand sexual consent.  Brook has been keen to work with government to make this a reality in schools through an effective PSHE Curriculum.  Whilst to date I don't know much has happened to deliver on that agenda I hope that this last week will bring the issue to the fore yet again, and we will see consent feature strongly in the long awaited PSHE review and Relationships and Sex Education guidance when published. I will be writing to the Minister this week to outline my concern that the commitment is not being delivered on, and to offer Brook's experience and support to progress it.

I remember as a teenager learning about the 'red mist' that descended upon boys after which they could not control their sexual urges until sated.  I have had breakfast with friends today, one of them as a young woman learnt it would be their responsibility if they were forced to have sex if they wore a skirt that was too short. None of us were taught expressly about consent. Sadly too often young people still learn these damaging ideas. And now we have some new phrases to bust. 

These dangerous myths, the misinformation and the old fashioned lies have absolutely no place in modern society.  All of us whoever we are - parents, aunts, uncles, friends and professionals - must make consent an active topic of discussion with children and young people to ensure we protect them from harm including sexual abuse.  Lets take this week as a wake up call and up our game and start talking about consent a whole lot more.  Too often we talk about exploitation and rape without talking about positive active consent.

Brook's focus is of course on educating young people. We will continue to ensure the premise that active consent is required every time you choose to have sex, that no means no, and we have the right to say yes, say no, or say maybe and to change your mind and stop at any point.

The stark reality however is that basic fundamental education about consent clearly needs to start with some adults too.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Congratulations to Campaign Volunteer Jenna Moore!

Jenna Moore has been Campaign Volunteer at Brook for the past six months working on the Sex:Positive campaign, creating a Sex:Positive Education outreach programme, as well as a ‘Brook-let’ for young people, and also being involved in the recruitment of Brook’s senior management team.

Jenna has been so committed and enthusiastic during her time at Brook and I’m delighted to congratulate her on being awarded the vInspired volunteer of the month. You can read Jenna's interview here.

You can follow the Sex:Positive campaign on Twitter @BeSexPositive and find out how you can become a Brook Campaign Volunteer here: