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Last Updated: Saturday, 14 June, 2003, 01:24 GMT 02:24 UK
'I wrote teen sex education book'
Jane Elliott
BBC News Online health staff

Jane Pavanel and one of her daughter's, May Antaki
Jane hopes the book will educate
When Jane Pavanel's daughter reached the age of 10 she started to worry about her sex education.

Her daughter was about to hit puberty and she did not know how to educate her about sex.

Books about sex aimed specifically at teenagers often raise considerable controversy, with furious arguments over just how much information should be given and in what manner.

At a time when teenage pregnancies in the UK are still among the highest in Western Europe and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are increasing at a frightening rate there are wide concerns that teenagers do not know enough about sex or how to protect themselves.

Information

But how much is enough?

Jane, who is based in Canada, was so worried that her daughter would not get the information she needed in a style she could understand that she decided to educate herself to prepare herself for any questions that Hannah might raise.

I realised that teenagers still know relatively little about sex and sexuality despite the times we live in
Jane Pavanel

"I was terrified that I wouldn't be able to parent her well, that I wouldn't know how to speak to her openly about sex.

"I realised that soon she would be through puberty and into a whole new stage: sex, drugs and rock and roll.

"I was terrified that I wouldn't know what the issues were for her, what her fears and questions might be, how to speak to her openly about sex, etc, so to put myself in the picture I began to educate myself."

Now her careful research has been turned into 'The Sex Book'.

With its handy A-Z format the book covers all topics from arousal to vibrators, oral sex, erotica, fantasies and lubrication as well as advice on safe sex, respect, saying no and sexually transmitted diseases.

To make the book more accessible for teenagers it uses slang terms alongside the correct terminology and includes all the latest information on sexually transmitted infections, including chlamydia.

Audience

I do not think it is appropriate for your average 13-year-old to be introduced to some terms, which, for most of our teenagers fall, thankfully, outside their experience
Professor Michael Reiss
Professor Michael Reiss, of London University's Institute of Education, said it was important to tailor the information carefully for the target audience.

The book is aimed at teenagers of all ages.

But Professor Reiss said some of the terminology might be inappropriate to explain to 13-year-olds, although perfectly acceptable for the older teens.

"There is always a problem with printed books because you can't control the age at which they are read.

"I do not think it is appropriate for your average 13-year-old to be introduced to some terms, which, for most of our teenagers fall, thankfully, outside their experience."

But he said that it was important that children were given some sort of sex education.

Mrs Pavanel, who originally trained as a teacher, said she hoped her book would help teenagers make more responsible choices about their sex lives.

"I realised that teenagers still know relatively little about sex and sexuality despite the times we live in.

"I wanted to offer them accurate and thorough information in an easy-to-read format on the premise that armed with good information, they will make healthier and more responsible decisions about their sex lives.

"After all, all teenagers have sex lives; even the ones who aren't dating have sexual thoughts emotions and desires may be engaged in self-exploration."

Publish

But Jane said it was vital that the book were used as part of a wider learning tool.

"I would like it to be part of a much better way in which we change the way we help teenagers.

"We need to normalise sexuality."

Jane said that the book had already proved popular with her own family, but she admitted they had been a little embarrassed by its contents.

The book is published in the UK on 17 June.


SEE ALSO:
What children are taught about sex
30 Apr 02  |  Education
Sexually-active pupils 'media hype'
30 Apr 02  |  Education
Call for sex education update
29 May 03  |  Education
'Let's change sex education'
26 Feb 02  |  Health


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