It’s not secret that young people these days are having sex. According to FPA, the average age for both men and women to loose their virginity is 17. With this in mind we need to make a conscious effort to make sex and relationship age appropriate and youth friendly, thereby making it relevant and informative for young people so that protect themselves and there partners and have safe, consensual sex.
So here are 4 ways that we can make sexual education youth friendly.
Investing in peer education
It would be great if young people had someone nearer their age talk to them about sex and relationships. This could be a college student coming in who is studying human anatomy and has prepared a presentation.
This could even be a younger medical or public health student who wanted to come in and speak. or even an experienced youth and community worker who deals with awkward questions and comments from pubescent teens on a regular basis.
It doesn’t help when those talking to and teaching young people about sex and relationships look like they don’t even have sex anymore. Everyone has that flashback of their weird science or PSHE teacher talking about body parts or contraception that makes them cringe.
Unfortunately, many youth may end up completely ignoring everything that has been said, even if it is true! Bringing in someone who is close to their age and knows what they’re talking about will help in educating youth.
Have funny videos
People love laughing and young people are no exception to that rule. If you can make a funny video about sex and relationships whilst educating about safe sex at the same time, that will do them wonders! People associate information with many different things, including their own experiences. If you can find or create something that is humorous and relatable you winning!
Also, It’s always useful to incorporate digital elements to teaching young people in general. We now know that young people are more tech savy than their elders so allow them to engage with something they are familiar with helps to gain their attention. You shouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel either, there are a range of animations and videos online about sex and relationships to choose from, for example contraception choices, body parts and sexuality, so find a video for the topic your delivering and start rolling the film.
Stop preaching abstinence only
This seems like an absolute no-brainer. If the average person is losing one’s virginity at 17, they’re probably not married, so they’re probably not abstinent.
Preaching abstinence only won’t make young people stop having sex. It’ll just cause them not to know how have sex safely and they will therefore practice unsafe resulting in unhealthy relationship, unwanted STIs and unintended pregnancies – thereby making national statistics rise unfortunately.
Instead, talk to young people about the joys of a healthy relationship that consists of communication, trust and respect, the beauty of sharing an intimate and passionate bond with someone, their right to say no and yes – alongside the safe sex spiel. Young people are entitled to know how to practice safer sex as well as enjoy sex at the same time we as a society need to provide them with this information.
Be a listening ear
Many adults, sometimes myself included, are not willing or able to lend a listening ear to young person who want to know more about sex. This leaves youth running around with misconceptions not really knowing who to go to to ask questions! Be the change you want to see in the world! If you know about and are ready to talk about sex with a young person, be there to talk!
Be there to clear up any weird and wonderful rumors they have. Be there to answer questions! This will not only strengthen the relationship you have with a young person, but it will also help them understand that you are ready and willing to be there for them. They shouldn’t have to walk around not knowing information that could help them! Even if you don’t know the answer, put them in touch with a professional or advice service that will give them answers. It’s OK not to know, but reassure them that theirs other places they can access support to.
Overall young people have questions that need answers. With that in mind we need to be providing the right services in order for young people to get support.
Find out more information on Sexual Health Services via our Service Page.