Friday, 23 November 2007

Helping turn the tide on STI rise amongst young people

Today the Health Protection Agency confirmed again that rates of sexually transmitted infection are still rising amongst young people. In all my conversations today i have reminded people that if we encourage more people to test, we will find out about more infections that were previously undiagnosed. Doubtless for a small minority this will be confirmation of the sexual immorality amongst the young. I do not agree - I think it is confirmation that we are not doing enough to support young people to make good decisions and choices that enable them to protect their physical and emotional health. As a country we have a collective responsibility to;

Work to change our unhelpful culture where sex is viewed negatively and sexually active young people are seen as out of control. We need to help young people feel confident about relationships and sex, and equip them with the skills to make good decisions so they can enjoy and take responsibility for their sexual health

Ensure sexual health services do not see continued disinvestment in ongoing efforts to balance the books. If this continues, we will see the consequences in increased teenage pregnancy and STI rates in a very short time

Commit to make Personal, Social and Health Education statutory in schools so every child learns about sex, relationships and sexuality wherever they live.
Currently too many receive little if any good sex education.

Invest in innovative community outreach programmes that reach out to the most vulnerable, building bridges between them and services and helping them take control of their sexual lives.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

What words for teaching about love?

Love and the overwhelming power of the feelings connected with love have been on the top of my mind over the last few weeks. At a friends wedding the lump in my throat was very big as speeches were made - the love was palpable and it felt amazing. A couple of friends have also had babies this month and alll parents are just describing the immediate strength of their love. And last night I went to a friends pre-wedding party (a modern day hen do, with men and women - is that a sten or a hag do?)

As often happens at these party's those who have already committed to marriage think nothing of the huge decision that has been made - to commit to someone for the rest of their life - and those who have not yet got to that point, stand in the corner and wander how she knows this is the right time and the right one - even though we can tell by the sparkle in her eyes and the ways she is that it is the right time. Last night a friend and I talked about how we can communicate the concept of love to young people so they understand it, look for it, feel it, work at it, treasure it and are not be fooled by it. In a world that is perhaps increasingly cynical about enduring love it seems important to me, that we spend some more time discussing love with our young. If anyone has found good ways of doing it, that have truly engaged with young people I would be interested to find out what you have found works.