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Life

You are in: Leicester > Features > Life > Education v Sexualisation

A pregnant woman in silhouette

Education v Sexualisation

Britain has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in Europe. What can we do? Listen to Katie Phillips, from the Teenage Pregnancy Partnership in Leicestershire speaking to BBC Leicester's Tony Wadsworth along with parent of three, Alison Reeve.

Are we making it easy enough for our teenagers to chat to us about their sexual worries or questions?

Or are we making sex a taboo subject that teenagers are embarrassed to discuss? Are we doing enough to educate our children in this difficult area?

"I think children want to learn from their parents. We have a duty to prepare them for the changes they go through in puberty and on into adulthood."

Alison Reeve, Parent

Listen: Sex Education

These are questions which any responsible parent will think about.

And they are questions about which Katie Phillips, from the Teenage Pregnancy Partnership in Leicestershire, and parent of three Alison Reeve have decided views...

Alison made a comparison between the situation now and that when she was younger.

"Children nowadays grow up in an enormously sexualised society that we didn't have in the 60's and 70's...

"That makes it doubly important that we talk to them responsibly about sex and relationships because these days children get a lot of misinformation from the media and from well-meaning friends."

A mouth

Get talking!

Duty

For Alison, good communication between parents and children is a key to solving many problems.

"I think children want to learn from their parents," she says.

"We have a duty to prepare them for the changes they go through in puberty and on into adulthood so it's not the scary time it was when I was growing up."

Such conversations should happen as and when the occasion arises. She says that using the programmes children watch, soaps and so on, as jumping off points for such discussions is a good idea.

Optimism

Katie Phillips agrees with Alison about the necessity of keeping channels of communication open. She also thinks that where teenage pregnancies are concerned there is room for some optimism.

She says: "The teenage pregnancy rate has come down significantly. The figures are the lowest for 20 years."

She is convinced that youngsters who can talk openly with parents do often delay their first sexual experience and then maintain communication with their parents.

Teenagers

Problem

Even so, there are still too many teenage pregnancies in this country.

Katie mentioned three ways in which this problem is being tackled.

  • By making sex education and advice in schools more accessible
  • By making sexual health services more accessible for young people
  • By providing guidance and provision in places where young people feel comfortable

Society and parents, then, have to work with young people where they are not in some idealised and unrealistic place we'd like them to be.

Choices

Some people are very chary about giving sexual advice and education to young people at all because they think it simply encourages sexual behaviour.

Katie does not think this is correct.

"Learning about sex and relationships doesn't make people have sex. It just gives them the information so that they are able to make choices when they are ready."

last updated: 12/02/2008 at 13:17
created: 12/02/2008

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