Teenagers want a say in sex education, says charity

condom Just over a third of teenagers surveyed rated sex education at their school as good or very good

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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.

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We are carrying out a wide, internal review of the personal, social, health and economic curriculum to strengthen classes to address weaknesses ”

End Quote Department for Education

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.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 196.

    Responsibility, self regultion, respect for others and a sense of consequence is key in all of this. We wouldn't tech kids to drive without teaching them the rules of the road at the same time. Sex education without supporting values, etc is flawed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 185.

    I wish that people would stop saying there is no good sex and relationship education being conducted in the UK. It's an insult to those of us working in this field for years, constantly developing new approaches to adjust to the 'brave new world' we live in. Education does not equate to rampant sex among the young. Most of them are just crying out for more information and the chance to discuss it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 153.

    Please read the article, it's kids telling us that current sex-ed does not educate them & 22% of them using sex-ed or parents as a primary source.

    Heads out of the sand, it needs to be improved so that kids have the info & confidence to say NO.

    Why do the liberal Dutch have lower rates of teen pregnancies & STIs - maybe because they've listened to their kids.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Teenagers at school are at the end of the day also consumers, and therefore as aspiring adults their input into what they require should be given weight. Particularly if the status quo is failing to meet their expectations in this sensitive area. Better the subject is handled well in the school environment than left to education by other sources less suitable or unwilling.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    These children, and they are children, shouldn't have a say in anything until they've left school and are paying taxes. Yes its an old fashioned view but most of these kids have absolutely no experience of real life other than what they glean from myface or youtube. Besides they are there to learn not to set the agenda, this is typical of the 'I have rights' generation. More listening less talking


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