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Friday, 26 October, 2001, 12:11 GMT 13:11 UK
School sex board game criticised
Pupils in Oldham have tried out the game
A new board game created to spread the safe sex message among teenagers has been criticised by family value campaigners.

"Contraception", developed by a Salford University lecturer, aims to enable discussion about sexual health in a relaxed atmosphere.

Developers of the game hope it will help cut rising teenage pregnancy rates and increase awareness of sexually-transmitted diseases.

But a campaign group says the game is a "stunt" and will not have a positive impact on the number of teenage pregnancies.

Condom demonstrator

Targeted particularly at 13 to 16-year-olds, the game works by directing players to sources of advice.

Participants are also encouraged at various intervals during the game to make an assertive statement, showing their ability to decline unwanted sexual pressure.

The board features a condom demonstrator, allowing practice of how to use this type of contraception.

UK's sexual health
25% of 15-year-olds think the pill protects against infection
Last year cases of gonorrhoea rose by 39% among teenage boys
Syphilis cases rose by 55% in the same period
Chlamydia was diagnosed on average every 10 minutes in 2000
Barbara Hastings-Astourian, who devised the game, teaches community nursing.

She said: "Teenage pregnancy rates are higher in the UK than much of Western Europe - six times higher than in the Netherlands.

"One of the best ways to address this is to provoke informed debate about safe sex and contraception.

"The game offers young people the opportunity to discuss issues in a safe environment, using language relating to sex, whilst building confidence."

The game has been developed in line with the Department for Education and Skills' sex and relationship guidance and in association with the Department of Health's Teenage Pregnancy Unit.

It has been trialled with local students and all schools can now purchase the game for use as part of their curriculum.

'No impact'

"Hopefully, this new product will help young people learn to respect themselves and others and move with confidence from childhood through adolescence into adulthood," added Ms Hastings-Astourian.

But Robert Whelan, director of Family and Youth Concern said: ""These things reflect the preoccupations of middle-aged people who work in health education programmes. They have little to say to young people today.

"Children don't take these things seriously - if only the people that promote this stuff knew about the hilarity with which young people react to these things, they would give up.

"It's a stunt that gains publicity and promotes people's careers - it won't make the slightest impact on teenage pregnancy rates."

"Contraception" was trialled at Crompton House Church of England School in Oldham, Greater Manchester.

Head teacher David Bowes said: "There is nothing salacious or unpleasant about this game - I can see it forming a part of our sex education classes in future."

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See also:

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