Sex education plea: Parents urged to teach their children more about sex
PARENTS are being urged to play a bigger role in educating their children about sex after the country’s largest health board said schools had “failed” in their attempts to limit the number of teenage pregnancies.
A new campaign has been launched by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to encourage parents to talk to their children from a young age about puberty, relationships and sexual health.
It came as the health board’s senior health improvement officer, Jo Zinger, said sex education in schools had not done enough to tackle the problem of teenage pregnancies.
“Schools have failed so far in terms of educating young people on these issues and teenage pregnancies have gone through the roof,” she said.
“I don’t think it’s solely their fault and schools will still have a role to play, but this campaign is about helping parents to ensure they offer the right guidance to their children at the right time.”
The health board denied reports, however, that the new focus on parents meant schools no longer had a role to play in addressing sexual health issues.
It said its campaign was about promoting existing services such as the Talk 2 initiative, which encourages parents to talk to their children in the hope of “normalising” and “de-mystifying” the subject of growing up.
A leaflet published by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to help promote its new campaign says: “You [parents and carers] are the child’s first and most important teacher.
“If you are the main person to talk with your child about relationships, growing up and sexual health, then they are more likely to feel positive about themselves, respect others, delay involvement in sexual activity, take better care of themselves when they do engage in sexual activity and be confident to talk about relationships.”
Scotland has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in western Europe, with 7.1 pregnancies per 1,000 girls under the age of 16 in 2010.
NHS Fife had the highest teenage pregnancy rate in 2010 for under-16s, at 9.2 per 1,000. In the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde area, the pregnancy rate for those under the age of 16 in 2010 was 6.8 per 1,000, down from 7.3 in 2009, but up from 6.3 in 2001.
A study by St Andrews University, which was published earlier this year, found Scottish teenagers are more sexually active than their peers in most other western European countries.
Catriona Renfrew, director of corporate planning and policy for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said: “Sexual health for young people is an important issue and NHSGGC is committed to working on a range of fronts to lower teen pregnancies and help young people feel more confident about their sexuality.
“Schools remain absolutely key to ensuring that we tackle these issues. There is no change to our current policy. The Talk 2 programme is about widening our approach to offer support to parents and it is entirely misleading to present it as a change in policy on the role of schools.”
The health board said sex education from an early age helps children avoid teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
A spokesman for the Scottish Government added: “Parents have a vitally important role in supporting their children’s learning. It is for schools and local authorities to decide how to deliver lessons on relationships, sexual health and parenthood in consultation with parents and carers to reinforce learning at home.”
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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