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Changing Attitudes to Sex

Adults worrying about young people having sex is nothing new! However, the rapid expansion of technological possibilities has fundamentally changed the whole debate. Teenagers are the most technology-savvy group in the UK, they live their lives via the digital world and digital activity is now an integral part of every young person’s relationships.

Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) is a vital component to allow young people to navigate their way through the complex, often confusing and always exhilarating world of sex and relationships. But recent studies show that we are failing them with the quality of SRE delivered in schools; in a UK Youth Parliament survey of 22,000 young people 43% said they were not taught about personal relationships in school and 40% described their SRE as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’[1]In a more recent survey one in four stated that they received no SRE of any kind and those that did were highly critical stating that it was too limiting in scope, squeezed into a small number of lessons and poorly delivered[2]

46% of young people say ‘sending sexual or naked photos or videos is part of everyday life for teenagers nowadays[3]The landscape is changing and as adults and educators the gap is widening between we what view as normal and what is the norm for young people.

Has this shift in attitudes had an impact; some of these statistics might suggest it has! A recent survey found that nearly half of under 25’s questioned did not use a condom when having sex with a new partner[4]and currently 6 in 10 chlamydia and gonorrhoea cases are in those under 25;[5]in fact every 4 minutes in the UK a person under the age of 25 is diagnosed with either chlamydia or gonorrhoea – that’s 144,000 diagnoses for people aged 15 to 25 in 2017. [6]On a positive note though teenage pregnancy rates are falling!

Good quality SRE, delivered by experts, not by the history teacher, has to be a vital part of making every child matter and children themselves want appropriate education: 74% of 11-15 year olds believe that children would be safer if they had age appropriate classes on relationships and sex education[7]. Plus the recent proposals put forward by the Education White Paper ‘Sex and relationships Education in Schools (England)’ making SRE compulsory will go some way to making sex safe again!

OMHWC are able to offer PSHE and SRE to all ages in schools.

[1][1]IPPR, Young People, sex and relationships: The new norms - UKYP 2007

[2]FPA – Are you ready? Young People’s views of Sex and relationships 2007

[3]IPPR, as above

[4]Nicola Davies – Online STi kits double testing uptake in Young People, Study Suggests The Guardian 27.12.2017


[6]Public Health England 25.10.18

[7] Young people and parents to have their say on relationships and sex education – 19.12.17

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