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This Morning – and sex education

March 5th, 2009

Dr Petra

Today I was on ITV’s ‘This Morning’ programme talking about sex education and teenage pregnancy in relation to a launch of a new booklet. ‘Talking to your teenager about sex and relationships’ will be freely available in UK pharmacies and covers tips on how/when to talk, STIs and contraception. I’ll be blogging about the booklet later, as it’s a talking point in itself.

The conversation on ‘This Morning’ was, I thought, very balanced. In fact I think it’s the first time I’ve had a conversation in the media about issues of sex education that hasn’t turned into a moral debate or me having to defend the need for sex ed. All the contributors (including a young mum) were in agreement we need sex education and it’s the responsibility of schools and parents to deliver.

Young people are getting STIs and children are becoming parents because of multiple factors. Many of them have nothing to do with sex. Poverty, lack of aspirations, boredom, lack of adult role models, dysfunctional relationships, peer pressure, misinformation in the media and living in a massively sexualised culture are all contributory factors.

If we don’t tackle wider societal issues, focus on relationships, and move our focus from blaming teenagers, ignoring boys while expecting teenage girls to prevent pregnancy and STIs just by saying ‘no’, then our problems look set to continue.

I’m committed to help anyone who wants it to try and improve how we look after children and teenagers so if you’re a parent, teacher, healthcare practitioner or teenager and want some advice/training please feel free to get in touch and I’ll see what I can do to help.

I’d recommend you do get the brochure from your pharmacy, but don’t feel if your child isn’t a teen you can’t read it – I’d get it even if you have a little one.

You may also find the following resources (from previous blogs) helpful:
Fifteen tips for talking to your kids about sex
Sex education starts at home (includes links to sources of help and books for children and teens on sex/relationships issues).

And here’s a list of support organisations and advice sites for young people and parents:

For teens
Youth Health Talk has a great section on sexual health that includes answers to your most commonly asked questions and features people talking openly about their experiences with contraception, pregnancy, getting tested for STIs and sexuality issues.

Teenage Health Freak – a lively website that covers a range of health worries (including sexual health, puberty and pregnancy)

Need 2 Know covers a range of health questions, including sex and relationships issues, mental health and confidence

Gay Youth UK has answers to any questions you may have about sexuality (being gay, lesbian, bi or trans)

Scarleteen – a straight talking US based website for girls that gives frank and positive advice about sex and relationships

If you are under 16 the website RUThinking tackles sex and relationships questions in a clear way or if you’re over 16 the website Condom Essential Wear also covers information on safer sex, condoms and STIs. Both sites can tell you where your nearest Family Planning and GU clinics are – so you can get free condoms (or other contraception) or have a sexual health check if you need one.

Like It Is discusses issues from emergency contraception to handling puberty

For parents

Parentline Plus has resources on all aspects of parenting and a confidential phone line. They have created specific support resources for parents to discuss sex and relationships issues (including sexuality) with their children

The Family Planning Association (FPA) runs Speakeasy to help parents overcome embarrassment and discuss sex – comes with useful resources and materials links

Talk with your kids (from Children Now)
has some helpful pointers on how to communicate effectively and also gets you thinking about your views on SRE issues

The American Psychological Association
has a guide on how you can help prepare your child to negotiate relationships and increase confidence and esteem

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