Do you remember sex education at school? My chief memories of my sex education lesson in primary school are of watching some slightly cheesy videos that made us all squirm with embarrassment, and the sting of injustice felt when the boys were allowed out for a longer lunch break while we learnt about the mysteries of menstruation. By that I mean one of our teachers put a tampon in a glass of water and we watched in horror as it expanded to almost fill the glass.
Later, as a teen, we were again shown cheesy videos and then much hilarity was had by all as we were shown how to put a condom on a plastic phallus. It was funny, but maybe not that instructive in the end.
All in all though, I don't think my sex education was that bad. Yet many girls at my school got pregnant at what I would consider to be an early age–late teens and early twenties. Was it down to poor sex education? Or simply personal choice? It's probably impossible to ever know, but there's no doubt in my mind that while not dreadful, how I was taught sex education could have been vastly improved.
Which is why I support Yas Necati's petition on Change.org asking for UK Prime Minister David Cameron to convene a working group of young people, professionals, teachers and online experts to re-write guidance on sex education in schools.
I left secondary school in the late 1990s. Back then, the Internet meant dial-up and AOL or MSN Messenger. We had never heard of social media. A decade later and Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites have totally changed the way young people communicate.
It seems like every few months we hear distressing stories about teenagers who are bullied online to such a degree that they take their own lives. We hear stories of young children learning about sex from watching porn online. A Telegraph/NSPCC poll has found that almost a third of young people believe that porn dictates how to behave in a relationship.
The British are known for being prudish about sex, but something has to be done. Current guidelines used by teachers to plan sex education lessons were last updated in 2000–so much has changed since then.
If we want today's–and future–generations of young people to make safe and informed choices about sex, they must be equipped with the proper knowledge. At the moment, there is no structured approach to teach children about sex in the online world–be it pornography or simply in the networks that young people communicate with. Something needs to change–and quickly.
You can sign Yas' petition here.
Girl Museum Inc.