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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 June, 2005, 16:34 GMT 17:34 UK
Teen sex health booklet attacked
Teenagers - anonymous
Teenagers said they received too much 'biological' sex education
Family campaigners have attacked a new sex and relationship guide for teenagers.

The Family Planning Association booklet, called Love, Sex and Relationships, is aimed at 13 to 16-year-olds.

The FPA says it aims to help teenagers deal with the "realities" of their emotional lives.

But the group Family and Youth Concern said the booklets "normalised" sexual activity among teenagers.

Publications like this one serve only to normalise sexual activity among young people under the age of consent
Norman Wells, Family and Youth Concern
The booklet spells out the difference between celebrities' body image and the average teenager and says they should not feel they are in a "race" to meet a partner.

It also addresses attraction, sexual orientation as well as information about having sex - including how to say no.

The booklet meets curriculum guidance for personal and sexual health education for secondary school pupils.

'Approaches vary'

Anne Weyman, chief executive of the FPA, said: "Young people tell us the sex and relationships education (SRE) they receive is too biological and they want more information about emotions, sexuality and relationships.

"In response we've produced a booklet that helps fill the gap and supports professionals delivering SRE."

She added: "Young people are exposed daily to a range of contradictory messages about sex and they need clear guidance to make sense of it all.

"Both parents and schools have a role to play in helping young people cope with the realities of relationships and to develop a positive attitude towards their sexual health.

"Provision of sex and relationships education in schools varies widely and often only the biological basics are taught.

"With continued high rates of unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, a more comprehensive approach should be made compulsory across all schools as a matter of urgency."

Norman Wells, director of Family and Youth Concern, said: "Publications like this one serve only to normalise sexual activity among young people under the age of consent.

He added: "Rather than persisting with the same old, tired, fatalistic approach that has failed so dismally, we need to start treating young people with more respect and give them a positive and much more radical message."

A spokesman for the charity Life said: "We have said for decades that young people both need and appreciate education about relationships rather than the mechanics of sexual intercourse.

"For decades the FPA has provided graphic sex education that has had a deleterious effect upon the physical and psychological health of young people.

"We hope they have finally acknowledged their failure and are starting to reverse their policy."

Nick Partridge, chief executive of Terrence Higgins Trust, said: "Good sex education works - it reduces STIs and unplanned pregnancy, and helps delay sexual debut. We should be welcoming this approach, not condemning it.

"Young people regularly talk about sex. We have a duty to provide good, clear advice on how to negotiate relationships and keep themselves safe and healthy before it becomes an issue."

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