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Let's Talk Sex
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Daniel, 16
I believe that sex education should be compulsory from the age of 11 and that a re-think as to what sort of information young people should be given is necessary. Sadly, this wouldn't solve the problem entirely. Teenagers may be unsure about certain aspects of 'safe sex'; however the majority know that having unprotected sex can result in pregnancy and/or catching an S.T.I. This suggests that the problem goes beyond a simple lack of knowledge; it is one of young people knowing the risks and either due to various social pressures or a lack of self-worth, choosing to ignore them.

I have 3 teenage nieces, 2 of whom have already had pregnancy scares, the current situation on sex and relationship education is appaling here. The boys where they live still insist on unprotected sex and the girls still let them. I saw a couple of the programs as I'm at home during the day and woke with the tv still on and on channel 4, Im glad I saw them. The changes recomended to our system are much needed. I still think the age of consent laws could be worked a little better with a lowering to 14 with a strictly enforced 3 year age gap applied until at least 16 but preferebly 18 and upping the age at which someone is considered unable to give consent from its present limit of 13 to anyone before their 14th birthday. keep up the good work.

Gemma 17
hi, i left high school last year and the sex education lessons were very poor, our school believed that it was more important to be taught about drugs and drink. When we did have sex education lessons they were split into boys and girls group and we spoke about what happens not about sex, In year 11 we finally learnt a lot more but by then we had already had sex and learnt for oursleves, lucky no-one in my year got pregeant but it's up to the goverenment to sort sex education not parents it's a lesson we should all learn.

I grew up through the 50s and 60s and so caught the so called sexual revolution. It may have been a revolution in terms of the amount of people having sex outside of marriage but it was certainly no revolution in people's knowledge of the act itself AND the consequences of sex. Now in my 50s I have a little more idea of sexual matters than as a teenager mostly due to the sexual freedom of the internet. I still feel that the UK in particular holds a legacy of sexual taboos lingering on from the Victorian era that it is high time was banished completely. I would like to see teenagers especially (and to a lesser degree pre-teens) taught ALL about sex and it's consequences. This needs to be completely graphical with images of REAL people. It is pointless to suppose that any amount or degree of sex education is going to make teenagers want to experiment more with sex ... as a one time teenage boy I can state categorically that it would be impossible for teenage boys in particular to think MORE about sex than they already do! At least if they thought about it alongside all the responsibilities and consequences there might be less unwanted pregnacies around.

I recently went to the doctors and we got talking about sex and all issues related and i feel that i learnt more with her for 10 mins than i did at my whole time at school. Schools teach the basics but they need to further this and make it more interesting so people are engaged and take part. The dolls which are like babies are a great way to lower teen pregnancies i think and should be used more!

Davina's comments about the Government tying the hands of schools by including directives that parents and religious groups should not be offended just shows what we are up against. I teach in a junior school and we used to spend quite a lot of time, both in year 4 and year 6, discussing relationships and talking through both the physical and emotional aspects of growing up and relationships. We had a BBC merry go round video which was great, but is now deemed too explicit. Considering the amount of sexual content on TV before the watershed I am astounded that either our parents, school governors or Government should think that pupils don't need guidance from an early age. I have children (11 and 13) of my own and do talk to them about sex because I'm very aware how little schools do - either because of an overcrowded curriculum or because of lack of clear guidelines.
Children do mature at different rates and often input at 11 or younger does go over pupils' heads - which is why it is so important to have a continuous support program set up to reinforce both the safety aspects and, more importantly, the sense of self worth that pupils should have for their bodies and their lives. For me, what came across from the program was not just that Holland's children were making sensible choices because they had access to the information, but also because they had been given the tools from an early age to value themselves, and because it was a countrywide policy they were not going to be swayed by other individuals with less self worth or knowledge. How can we persuade our Government to stop pandering to political correctness and issue a directive that supports teachers, social and health workers, across all key stages, to deliver a useful and balanced PSHE curriculum that is as explicit as is needs to be?

Well done Davina - I caught the show yesterday by accident which is how I discovered sex at a very young age. School taught us nothing then (40 years ago!) and I am worried that it is as bad now. I have 2 young children, aged 5 and 9 and I really am concerned what if any relationship education they will get. I am about to find out if I can get any books or help to teach them at home as I may be their only hope for a safe and informed future. Can you make this series compulsory for all adults too.

Vicky, Coventry
What a superb programme, both in content and delivery. If young people know they need more support and information; if youth workers, teachers, support workers and so on know too; if parents are ill-informed and scared... Why is this education not happening?!! We are putting our young people at risk, needlessly. We live in a world where people don't talk about sex, but instead are just doing it. Let's not go any further down the line of the US model, and let's, for all our young peoples' sakes, start giving them what they need and want.

Emily, 14
That programme was amazing! It showed exactly what should be happening and yet the government are too afraid to come out from the shadows. I am 14 and i know a few girls of my age who have already been pregnant. Sex education is taught at my school but at 14 i have no idea how a condom should go on or if there's something wrong with it, why shouldn't we be taught it? Under age sex happens so instead of moaning about it the government should stand up and do something to stop teen pregnancies and the spread of STDs!!!!!

Cheryl, 25, North Yorkshire
I thought the programme was fantastic. My own sex education was pretty good, and in fact the cartoon video that was featured was the one I saw at school, at age 15 or 16. However, I am 25 now and still encounter people my own age who know nothing more than the real basics of sex and STIs. One of my close friends said that it was not possible to get pregnant before your first period! It is clear that a lot of work has to be done. We need a system like the Dutch have, and we need it now, so in a couple of generations we will all be much more knowledgeable.

Vanessa, Nottingham
I thought this programme was fantastic. I work in the area of sexual health promotion and am totally for early, consistent, compulsory SRE. I was particularly moved by the interview with the minister for Children and Young People, I thought she gave a typical politician's answer by not answering the very valid questions by the young people and Davina and taking the whole "let's see" attitude, while as your counter shows the numbers of TP, Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea go shooting up. Take some responsibility, the parents ain't doing it they think schools are!! Let's start now and be like Holland in 20yrs.

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Anon, 14
I go to an all girls secondary school and I have to admit our sex education is brilliant but lessons few and far between. Our sex education is taught within our PHSE lessons and we have midwives, Brook Health Clinic members, videos and internet quizzes to help us learn about sex. Saying this the amount of sex education is small and most girls learn about sex through stupid rumours. I definitely think that sex education should be improved by the UK Government and I hope that campaigns like this help the situation. As girls we know the basics of puberty, sexual intercourse and contreception but we have never learnt about miscarriage, abortion, and only vaguely touched on STIs. I know a lot of my friends feel let down by the system and I hope people realise what we school kids have to put up with. The media portray us us people who do not care about Sex Education but I disagree. I'm 14 and me and all my friends want to learn about Sex and the after effects so we can make wise decisions in the future.

An absolutely inspiring series. I am embarrassed to say that I have never broached the subject with my daughters aged 18 and 15 and had previously thought that the necessary information would be given at school. Given the results of the sex test it is not only teenagers who need more lessons! The programme aired the following day in which British teenagers were interviewed on the subject of losing their virginity served to highlight the disgraceful situation we have here. I also wonder if the enlightened way that the Dutch approach the subject of sex and emotions may help in the way that women are perceived? I will now force myself to overcome my ridiculous hesitance and talk to my teenagers. I managed to video tape the last programme of the series and will sit down with them to watch again. Thank you, please do more.

This programme was brilliant at highlighting the appalling record that the UK has in educating our children. It shows how successive governments have failed and are continuing to fail children. Sex education needs to be compulsory regardless of religion, ethnic background or any parental hangups, if Britain wants to get out of the rut that it is in and the burden that young pregnancies are having on our children, NHS and Welfare State then education and informed decision making is the only way forward. It should not be left for schools to decide, rather a standard thorough educational programme starting at the age of 5 based on love and relationships building up to changing body image and sexual relationships, risks and staying safe. Well done to the Dutch government, this proves that this is a sucess and financially and morally viable solution to the problem. The Uk government is guilty of failing our children on the grounds of fear and ignorance. The solution is there proven – take it.

I went to an all girls school and we never had any sex education at all. We were not even told how our own bodies worked and what happened during puberty, let alone anything about sex. I did not know anything about a man's body until I met my husband. I believe it would have helped me a great deal if I had known about puberty for both m/f, menstruation, the component parts of male and female bodies, how to prevent unwanted pregnancies and maybe even what happens during pregnancy.
Having watched the programmes this week and how Holland deals with this, then I am all for education in our schools. Teaching children how to relate to each other and care about each others feelings from the age of 4, to me is the very least we could start with. Too often children do not know how to relate to or treat each other, hence arguments and scuffles on the playground. The Government I feel too often takes "the easy road" and sits on the fence, it is time to make a stand and take this country out of the dark ages and its straight laced ways, ways in which I was raised, and bring it into the 21st century!

I am amazed at the different emotions that are happening even in my mind, around the show. The Dutch sex education, it did feel that 13 year olds were watching "porn" it was very graphic, and made me feel uncomfortable. But we must look at the facts it works over there. One thing we must not forget is that in Netherlands the education doesn't start at secondary school age but earlier, on things easier to talk about and I believe are essential the foundations to any sexual relationship you choose to have. Relationships, freedom of choice etc.
I am a Youth worker in Central London and the numbers of young people I come across that are in casual relationships, "Just sleeping around, with various partners" (or even stages before that!). it's all about the physical side of a relationship for them and this is 13 to 15 year olds. It is scary! We must not forget that it is not just about pleasure, it is about procreating and about expressing your love with another person, it is not just fun, it has huge meaning. If young people choose, with the full knowledge that they receive from the education system we have in schools, then great. How can we blame our young people, our future generation if the information they are receiving is inaccurate or they are made to feel that it is dirty or disgusting!

Elspeth and Katherine, 19
I think it is crazy that sex ed is not on the curriculum. it's mad that people think it won't happen to me. you could blame it on parents but what of those that don't have any and live in care. and parents don't find it easy. and why are parents stopping it as they don#t want to do it themselves. they think it is wrong to show films of masturbation, but they go home and do it to themselves so why is it seen to be bad?!!!!! This country sums it up, by the fact that channel 4 could not air all of the Dutch sex ed film in the morning as it was seen to be too "explicit" this shows how closeminded the country has become.
We are constantly getting algebra drilled into our heads (for example). What use is algebra if you don't know what a condom is and get pregnant at the age of sixteen, how's it going to help you?!!!!!
As two nineteen year olds we are ashamed at our knowledge when getting such a score on the test, it has scared us and is very worrying. Sex ed needs to be done and it needs to be spoken freely about. I have to admit I think most of our sex ed has come from cosmopolitan magazine.

I am a mother of four, two boys and two girls, aged 19, 18, 12 and 10 years. After watching the program on Monday and Tuesday I have come to the same conclusion that Davina did, our schools must educate our children with regard to sex and relationships in a much more honest and blunt way. We do with regard to drug use and the effects of drug taking, everywhere you look there are adverts or leaflets on the subject. As a mother I know my job is to help educate my children and I feel that I do answer their questions honestly and yes sometimes it is a bit embarrassing but they are my children and it goes with the job. I can recall myself explaining to my own mother (at the age of 16) what a blow job was! That must have been more embarrassing for her than it was for me.
I feel that England has to wake up and realise that just because you know the facts doesn't mean that you are going to rush out and do it! Our whole approach to sex is so Victorian, 'Lie back and think of England!' It’s time that we as a nation get with 21st Century, teach our children as the Dutch do, by being more open and honest. We need to squash all the silly sniggers and nudges that even adults revert to. Sex is not something dirty or bad, it should not be treated like it is! We need to teach our children that safe sex is ok.
All four of my children know about condoms and what they are for, they don't snigger when the word 'condom' is mentioned like most kids do. I buy condoms for my older two and even though my 18 yr daughter is not active yet I know that one day she will need that condom so I just make sure she has them. My eldest son tells me he can afford to buy his own but I still buy them for my own peace of mind.
I think that schools should have proper sex education as the Dutch do and we should start in primary school as they have otherwise the whole silly stigma and sniggering will just continue. In your clip with English teens watching the sex ed video with the Dutch kids I noticed one of the girls was embarrassed and did not know where to look, if she had grown up knowing and being shown a little more on the subject she would not have reacted that way. I think it is a real big let down to allow our kids to grow up in this ignorance, there will be more teenage pregnancies and more stds. Any parent who cares will want their children to be fully informed and not left in ignorance.

Monique, 33, Manchester
Davina and Channel 4 team Let's talk sex was a great programme and I was lucky to be able to see all 3 episodes while I'm on maternity leave awaiting the birth of our first child. As a Dutch native having lived in the UK now for 7 years I understand the cultural difference between the UK and NL and I totally agree with what you are trying to achieve. My question however now is, what now after all this? You have raised the profile successfully and the feedback on your web is very positive but as it was morning TV, are there any further action plans coming out of this as the minister you were talking to did not come across as making it go much further (actually taking a very British approach) understandably but I would like to know what can the people in England do further to help materialise what the program has started as it would be a shame to see this work being lost.

i am currently in year 10 i don't even know how to put a condom on or anything, i know nothing about STIs and STDs the only sex education classes i remember was 1 video in year 6 which i don't even remember what happens and a lesson in year 7 which i remember nothing about so really i can't say i know much just what i hear round school. I think we are desperate to put sex education on the national curriculum because i for one don't want to make a life thretening mistake on my first time, i need to know everything before i feel i can have safe sex.

Rachael, Kent
I hope the government policy makers were impressed by this programme. I was. The current generation of Mums and Dads will embrace the Dutch approach with open arms. Don't underestimate us, or label us with the attitudes of our parents. Many of us are taking a similar approach with our own kids already. Sex education policy needs to catch up with real life. What are we waiting for?

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