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01 January 2011

Britain: Teenagers want to be taught about family values


A university survey has found that teenagers want to be taught about family values and parental responsibilities rather than the mechanics of sexual intercourse and contraception, reports Christian Concern for our Nation.

The survey, conducted by Hull University experts on health and social care, investigated the sexual health knowledge, behaviour and attitudes of young people aged from 13 to 16. The survey found that teenagers see the responsibilities of being a parent as the number one “fact of life”. They take it as a priority ahead of sexual intercourse, contraception and sexually-transmitted infections.

“These findings are reflected further in the topics students want to know more about. Irrespective of gender or school year the consistent and primary topic young people want to know more about is ‘being a parent’,” the survey says.

“It is important to note that uniform by both gender and school year was the desire for more information about becoming a parent. An increased focus on the role of being a parent might impact on safe sexual practices.”

The findings suggest the current emphasis in schools on the mechanics of sexual intercourse including how to use a condom does not match the priorities of youngsters.

Half of girls say they want sex education to focus on the consequences of pregnancy, not the mechanics and biology of sex. The survey also found that majority of 13 to 16-year-old boys want to know what “being a parent” is all about and that this is the most important issue for them.

Three quarters of boys and girls agreed “you don’t have to have sex to keep a partner” and a relationship doesn’t have to include sex. More than two-thirds of boys and girls said “first sex should be both special and planned”. Three out of five girls and almost half of boys said they would only have sex in a long term serious relationship.

Norman Wells, director of the Family Education Trust, said: “Young people are clearly tiring of the negative messages they are receiving about pregnancy and parenthood from sex educators obsessed with contraception.”

“For too long, government policy has all too often been encouraging and facilitating casual sex.”

The survey was commissioned by East Riding of Yorkshire Council and NHS East Riding of Yorkshire, and carried out by Dr Julie Jomeen and Dr Clare Whitfield. Dr Jomeen said the findings were important because a national strategy to cut teenage pregnancy had failed, while sexually-transmitted infections among young people are rising.

In March 2009, a £280 million Labour Government plan to slash the number of teenage pregnancies was heavily criticised by politicians, academics and family groups who called the plan “absolutely disastrous”. The plan, called Teenage Pregnancy Strategy, came under harsh criticism when official figures revealed that 41.9 girls per 1,000 aged 15 to 17 became pregnant in 2007, compared with 40.9 in 2006.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, CEO of Christian Concern, said: “The former government’s sex education program, which targeted children and young people, has failed drastically. Sex education that seems to expect young people to have sex has made the situation worse rather than better, and led to an increase in teenage pregnancies and STD’s. We need sex education based on the Christian faith, emphasising marriage and the family and empowering young people to say no to sex outside of marriage.”

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