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Call for better sex education for smartphone generation

Terrence Higgins Trust report says current teaching is 'unfit' for modern life
Smartphone teens

Sex education in schools is ‘unfit’ for the smartphone generation of children, a sexual health charity has warned.

The report from charity Terrence Higgins Trust, Shhh…No Talking, highlights that guidance for schools in England was written in 2000 – before the rise of social media, smartphones, same-sex marriages and civil partnerships.

‘Terrible’ teaching

The trust surveyed 900 people aged 16-24. Half of the respondents rated their sex and relationship education (SRE) as ‘poor’ or ‘terrible’, while 95% said they had not been taught about LGBT sex and relationship issues.

Three quarters of those surveyed claimed not to have been taught about sexual consent, while one in seven said they had not received any SRE at all.

The charity is calling on the departments of education in England, Scotland and Wales to work together to update SRE, and make it compulsory in all schools.

Nurses' role

Sex education in schools is ‘unfit’ for the smartphone generation of children, a sexual health charity has warned.

The report from charity Terrence Higgins Trust, Shhh…No Talking, highlights that guidance for schools in England was written in 2000 – before the rise of social media, smartphones, same-sex marriages and civil partnerships.

‘Terrible’ teaching

The trust surveyed 900 people aged 16-24. Half of the respondents rated their sex and relationship education (SRE) as ‘poor’ or ‘terrible’, while 95% said they had not been taught about LGBT sex and relationship issues.

Three quarters of those surveyed claimed not to have been taught about sexual consent, while one in seven said they had not received any SRE at all.

The charity is calling on the departments of education in England, Scotland and Wales to work together to update SRE, and make it compulsory in all schools.

Nurses' role

School nurse and RCNi Nurse Awards Child Health Award winner Ruth Butler believes school nurses could be key to achieving this, provided they are given the time.

‘The potential is there if authorities will listen and see we are willing to be the health promoters this age group wants, provided they invest in school nurses,’ added Ms Butler, who works for Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust.

‘Health promotion is always the first thing to suffer when a school nurse has limits placed on their time.’

Trusted information

Terrence Higgins Trust chief executive Ian Green said: ‘Without trusted information from schools on anything other than the biological basics of heterosexual sex, young people will turn to less reliable sources such as the internet or their peers as they navigate life outside the classroom.

‘We must end this silence and make SRE mandatory in all schools if we are to tackle this safeguarding crisis.’

A Department for Education spokesperson said: ‘High-quality sex and relationship education is a vital part of preparing young people for life in modern Britain.

‘We are focusing on raising the quality of personal, social, health and economic education, and are working with leading head teachers and practitioners to look at how best to achieve this.’

Shhh…No Talking

School Health Matters

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