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FPH welcomes national debate on teenage sex and sex education

The Faculty of Public Health (FPH) welcomes the national debate on how we can support young people to have the knowledge and confidence they need to deal with sex and relationships.

FPH President, Professor John Ashton said: “We need – as a society – to talk about what is happening to our children and young people: the increasing sexualisation of childhood and the easy accessibility of pornography. We need to empower our young people to negotiate relationships, give them the information they need on what services they can access, including sexual health services, and who they can turn to for advice.

“This is the responsibility of society as a whole. We, as parents, health professionals, community leaders and teachers, need to do everything we can to protect our children and young people. This means talking openly and candidly about sex and relationships.”

The Government needs to ensure that sex and relationships and sexual health are taught in schools. Government proposals to remove any mention of sex and sexual health from the science curricula are of major concern. FPH calls on the Government to invest more resources, including financially, to improving sexual health services, their accessibility and reach. We welcome the Deputy Prime Minister’s call to modernise sex education in schools: it should be placed firmly on the curriculum, resourced effectively and parents should be involved in both discussion and support for young people and their concerns.

Following recent media coverage on the age of consent, Professor Ashton said: “Age of consent is just one aspect of a wider discussion on how to safeguard children and young people. It’s important to get an honest and open debate going, and I’m glad to see this has been achieved.”

FPH today welcomed the announcement by Google and Microsoft that they would take measures to make it harder for people to source illegal images of abuse. FPH also believes the Government must take firm action to ensure the measures are implemented, legislating if necessary. But more needs to be done – both by internet providers and the Government – to tackle the ‘hidden internet’ such as ‘peer-to-peer’ networks where much of this material is available.

Written: 18/11/2013 , last modified: 24/12/2013