Teenagers want a say in sex education, says charity
- 12 October 2011
- From the section Education & Family
Teenagers in Britain want to have more say in the content of sex education lessons at school, a survey finds.
A poll of over 2,000 14 to 18-year-olds found 78% did not have the chance to influence the content of these lessons, but 72% thought they should.
The poll, for the youth sexual health charity Brook, found more than one in five (22%) rated sex and relationships education as poor or very poor.
The government said it was reviewing this part of the curriculum in England.
The survey of 2,029 teenagers in England, Scotland and Wales found just over a third (34%) thought sex education at their school was good or very good and 40% said it was average.
More than half (52%) said relationships and emotions were not discussed enough in the relevant class.
About one in seven (13%) teenagers said they learnt most about sex from a sex and relationships education (SRE) teacher at school.
Just under one in 10 (9%) said they received most of their information about sex from their mother, father or both parents.
Over a third (36%) said they got most of their information about sex from friends and 10% said they got this from a boyfriend or girlfriend.
And 14% said they learnt about the subject from agony aunt columns, magazines, books, music lyrics and videos or TV.
The survey revealed 5% learnt about sex online from pornography.
The survey was conducted in September by the company Research Bods, among young people from its youth research panel.
Jules Hillier, Brook deputy chief executive, said: "Young people in Britain deserve honest, useful information about sex and relationships but SRE in UK schools is failing them.
"Standards vary so widely that all too often young people miss out on the information they need to stay safe, healthy and happy.
"Worse, we know that the void is not being filled by reliable information from elsewhere - like parents - but from the playground and, even more worrying, internet porn.
"We are calling on young people to seize the opportunity to make their voices heard by telling us what they think 21st Century SRE should cover, to better meet their needs."
A spokesman for the Department for Education said: "We are carrying out a wide, internal review of the personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) curriculum to strengthen classes to address weaknesses reported by Ofsted last year.
"We are simplifying the statutory guidance on sex education to focus on relationships, positive parenting, and teaching young people about sexual consent.
"We have launched a public call for evidence - and will consult on firm proposals in due course."
A similar review is not anticipated in Wales and Scotland.