Penny Barber, chief executive of sexual health clinic Brook in Birmingham, says sex and relationship classes are the key weapon in tackling teenage pregnancy...
A variety of factors contribute to the possibility of a teenager becoming pregnant.
Low expectations of education and work, a lack of knowledge about sexual health, a rosy view of motherhood and mixed messages about sexual behaviour all increase the likelihood of a teenage pregnancy.
And the chances are even higher for young women from a poor background. There is no single thing to blame.
But young people are more likely to delay having sex for the first time, and to use contraception when they do, if they have received quality sex and relationship education and have easy access to confidential, young-people-friendly sexual health services.
The fact is, children need to know what is going to happen to them before they are in the thick of it.
Girls often get their periods by the age of nine or ten. One in ten girls experience their first period with no idea about what is happening to their bodies.
We need to talk about the changes to their bodies and their feelings before it hits them.
People get very anxious about sex and relationship education in primary school, thinking it is about technique and so on, but it isn?t.
There is already a lot of information out there on sex, especially on the internet, or in magazines, that children have access to, and it is often inaccurate and very unpleasant.
We see clients every day who are ignorant about the basics of ovulation and fertilisation ? people in their early to mid teens, for example, asking whether you can get pregnant through oral sex.
Parents who can and do discuss sex and relationships with their children certainly help. But we can?t leave it to them alone, as many parents find it difficult, especially if their own sex education was also too little, too late and too biological.
Comprehensive SRE is a key part of the solution.
This means lifelong learning about sex, sexuality, emotions, relationships and sexual health. It involves acquiring information, developing skills and forming positive beliefs, values and attitudes. It isn?t a teeny bit of biology on the mechanics of procreation one day (the only compulsory information) and, if you?re lucky, an hour from us on sexually transmitted infections and contraception.
The advantage schools have for teaching SRE is that they can share information about the bigger picture and make sure all the gaps in knowledge are covered. It provides a space for young people to work through all the different scenarios with their peers.
Many schools do now have comprehensive SRE programmes, but provision is still a patchy postcode lottery.
Often it depends on one teacher?s particular enthusiasm rather than being bedded into teaching programme in schools, and when they leave it falls by the wayside.
The Government?s Independent Advisory Group on Teenage Pregnancy calls for SRE in the statutory curriculum at all key stages, and for all teenagers to have access to confidential, welcoming, contraceptive and sexual health advice services.
The vast majority (84 per cent and 86 per cent) of parents and pupils want SRE taught in schools. We want the Government to take the advice of its advisors and meet the wishes of current and future electors.
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