Kirstie English

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What are your thoughts on sexual health and education?

Hi today I have a few questions for you all. First where do you think kids/teens should learn about sexual health? Second do you think schools are doing enough to teach them about it?

For the first question I would say either parents should be informed on how to teach their children about sexual health or it should be done though schools as not all information on line is true and not all young people are comfortable asking a doctor about things like this.

As for schools I think that no school is doing enough. I had some of the best sexual education in school and even then if it wasn't for the internet and my local LGBT youth group I would know nothing about STDs and STIs and what they look like until I was 16, which was too late for most of my classmates and they also did not teach anyone how to be safe during what they saw as "non traditional" sexual acts. Schools seem to think that if teens will have sex it will just be straight forward intercourse even though most studies show that young people are more lightly to engage in some other kind of sexual act first. So it isn't simply the LGBT students that are being put in danger by not telling students how to engage in oral and anal sex safely.

I have one last question which is for my own benefit. I have been really wanting to try and improve sexual health awareness but I can't find any campaign groups I can join. So my questions is does anyone know of any good sexual health awareness campaign groups?

  • Jul 2 2013: Teaching sexuality education is difficult. I say this as someone who has taught it for several years and feel like I do some things very well and others very poorly.

    First, relationships are not taught as well as they should be and they should be the foremost of the teaching. If you have a good relationship, know what it looks like, and know how to work on it, you will be in better shape. The value of men and women in the relationship is not taught well enough. Communication skills need to be taught more than they are. But that is only part of it.

    The issue of LGBT has become easier to teach and the issues are similar to all couples. But some folks still find it hard to teach based on their own personal issues. Though they have become easier based on changing public views.

    When you get to the point of "teaching how to engage in oral and anal sex safely" you run straight into massive pitfalls. Some communities are simply not okay with this teaching. Teachers as well have difficulty teaching this portion. When good teachers, or community health professionals, begin to teach "how to" some communities immediately oppose this teaching. Safe sexual practices, i.e. use of a condom or birth control, are acceptable, but teaching practice is not acceptable in many places. Not to mention, there really is no easy or good way to teach a group of adolescents how to engage in sexual activities, that I am aware of.

    I do agree that the sexuality education needs to be increased and bolstered in most areas. It is a challenge to most educators both personally and professionally not to mention when dealing with the culture of the school and community.
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    Jun 28 2013: Hi Kirstie,

    Sex education, sexual health, sexual identity and self respect are issues that should be part of growing up in nurturing families... but who in the UK lives in that ideal environment?

    I think at 13/14 schools should begin to guide young people towards appropriate information (probably on the internet nowadays), backed up by a qualified school counsellor/ nurse / telephone advise service.

    Teachers aren't the best people to teach sex education - they have their own opinions and, as we all know, they like to tell kids what to think and do! Likewise, Youth Workers tend to try too heard to be "cool" with the kids, and may inadvertently come across as too permissive and encouraging.

    Personally, I feel kids are being placed under too much pressure to throw away their virginity - like it's something to be embarrassed or ashamed of! Being sexually active at 13 or 14 is sad and shocking - but I know it happens more and more nowadays.

    As far as finding a good sexual health awareness campaign, surely Glasgow must have many. You could ask at your local sexual health clinic.
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      Jun 28 2013: I think positive sexual education starting with just talking about different relationships in schools from a young age could help take away the pressures kids have about having sex. I honestly think teachers could teach sexual education as well. It doesn't matter what the teachers opinion is. If a teacher was a racist we wouldn't let them not teach kids to treat everyone equal. I am just out of education and was getting what is seen as the best sexual health and to be honest it was pathetic and in the UK it isn't even mandatory for schools to teach that much and many don't.
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        Jun 28 2013: Here's a suggestion Kirstie, go into your local politics now. With your unique perspective of being freshly out of education you see where it could be better. Your age doesn't matter if you feel strongly enough, you might have to create what you are looking for.
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    Jun 28 2013: Sex and Health education is a continuous process.

    Begins with birth

    Parents , teachers and the society should actively paricipate in it.

    And every one should know exactly after lots of studies, discussions and continuous re-evaluation

    What, when and how things are to be told.
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    Jun 28 2013: This I believe is a subject that should start in the home however, I experienced sexual education in grade school, in middle school and then again every year in high school. I think the internet is a great resource for a lot of things however, this is a conversation piece and topic best kept off cyberspace.

    Because of the intimate nature of the topic, parents should have the initial talk with their children, and it should be supplemented in school, which should lead to question for parents or a medical professional to answer the very specific questions.

    I would be concerned with the potential hazards of letting my children research this online.
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    Jun 28 2013: When you know that internet contains a lot of information on sexual heath which is untrue, you have enough wisdom to find out credible sources of information. Formal sex education in schools, at least here in India, is too unimaginative and it hardly contains right kind of information for LGBT young persons. Intelligent kids learn fast that parents are their best bet, because they are the most concerned.
    Having said that, it is also true that for straight parents it is difficult to understand the neccessities of LGBT kids. So it is more of an additional responsibility for them to accept and learn LGBT ways of safe and healthy sexual practiices first to help their kids.
    What is absent in any sex education and often in medical advice is the recognition that sexual behavior is highly influenced by sexuality, which is not strictly participatory sex. If one understand sexuality correctly, h/she has a head start into healtheir sexual practice.
  • Jun 27 2013: Kids should learn about sexual health from their parents, doctors, other medical professional, or any trusted family member.

    I do not think schools should be required to teach sexual health, nor students learn about sexual health until they are ready. Who decides when a child is ready? Parents should, but if the child is asking questions, then they should have an opportunity to get professional medical answers.

    For parents and kids, there is an awkward stigma associated with sexual behaviors that makes the communication difficult. For one thing, it is an adult behavior and the parent might not think the child is enough of an adult to understand the consequences of the behaviors. The child, full of sensations, curiosity, and having a new power, wants to explore and try new things. Nature is on the child's side.

    So often people take the path of least resistance in life. For parents, it is much easier to try and control behavior to prevent the opportunity for the child to engage in various sexual behaviors, or just continue to believe that the child is too young to really have these feelings. Often social influences like religions, local culture, governments, or family beliefs dictate the decision making relative to sexual behavior. In fact, these decisions are often used in politics because they are so controversial. It is too easy to brand what is really a desire to learn about sexual behavior as promiscuous behavior, behavior reflecting low morals, or poor parenting. This type of branding appeals to older and more conservative voters, who see the results of promiscuous behaviors (teen pregnancy, STD, prostitution, pornography, exploitation, etc.) as massive hard to solve social problems. If someone like a politician or religious leader tells them there is a link between asking the question and the unwanted adult behavior, they want to believe them. This of course does not help the child at all.

    Clinic or School nurse might know of good campaign groups.
  • Jun 27 2013: First where do you think kids/teens should learn about sexual health?

    I was thinking about this just today, with respect to my grandchildren. Ideally, parents would teach their children, but this could be very embarrassing for all concerned. It is one thing to talk about these matters with professionals, and completely different to imagine your parents engaged in sex acts. The images would interfere with clear communication. So the answer would be professionals, but not just teachers in a classroom setting. Teens need one-on-one sessions with people with knowledge and experience. It occurred to me that the best people available right now are sexual surrogates. That is a very expensive solution, but when you consider the importance of this part of life, it might well be worth it.
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    Jun 27 2013: Families surely ought to convey some of this information, but in the United States almost every state, I believe, will have mandatory health education and most sex education as well.

    This begins in grade school and is often required also in middle school and again in high school.

    You are right that there is a lot of incorrect and harmful health education on the internet.

    I know all my kids in public school learned about sexually transmitted diseases at school in fifth grade, which here means they were around ten years old. I believe they learned about birth control then as well.

    We have several experienced health educators on the site who will surely reply to you about this.
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      Jun 27 2013: The issue with schools as they very rarely mention things such as dental dams and when they do mention STD/Is the don't always show what they look like so teens don't learn how to identify them.
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        Jun 27 2013: While school curricula seldom cover subjects comprehensively, it would be a useful component of a school program to provide links to authoritative online sites.

        For example, there are many health knowledge data bases provided by medical institutions that contain detailed information for a host of illnesses of what the symptoms look like.
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          Jun 28 2013: Yeah if they gave links to like the NHS sites it would help. That is where I went when I wasn't sure.
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    Jun 27 2013: Your best bet is to try your local std clinic or whatever they call it in Glasgow, the nurses specifically as the doctors are usually distracted from their workload. Even volunteering there to get a feel for that area of health. I was an orderly at a small hospital here in Nz 20 years ago and it ran day clinics ranging from sexual right through to ear,nose throat to gyny. I'm out of touch with modern procedures or if these clinics still exist. If they do then it's the girls that work the front line that can tell you the most, my girls were the best, because my mother at the time was a well known nurse who also worked there the girls were relaxed in discussing cases in front of me. For some reason no names or personal details were ever divulged. I took as natural as it protected patient rights.

    They will have relative information on young peoples group that could be related to what you are seeking.