Sex education goes beyond contraception

Words by Honor Tuttiett

Fantastic news came this year as the Office of National Statistics released figures showing that teenage pregnancy has fallen consecutively for the past four years. Nationally the figures have dropped by 10% in 2015, but in Bristol the numbers show that under 18- conceptions have fallen from 1 in 20 in the early 2000’s to 1 in 50 now, a 21% reduction. These figures signify the hard work the city has coordinated in the last ten years to help young people become educated in sexual health.

Councillor Daniella Radice, Assistant Mayor for Public Health, said: “I would like to commend all the hard work of the people who provide many public services, from public health to youth work, healthcare and schools, that has contributed to this decline over the last 11 years.

“It demonstrates the importance of long term prevention work, along with strong partnerships across the city.”

The statistics also come as a relief as pressures on young people today continue to mount. With the nature of the internet, there is an expectation to grow up faster as more information is shared to people of all ages. Pornography is having a profound impact on young people too and initiatives in Bristol are showing their successful adaptation against this. Bristol County Council cabinet member Barbara Janke put this success down to funding from the NHS and Council to provide projects like 4yp.

4YP is a young people led project that provides confidential services to give advice on sex, relationships and contraception. Their logo is seen in GP surgeries, pharmacies and and clinics to show that the service these establishments are providing is 4YP approved and young person friendly.

Janke went on to say, “Reducing teenage pregnancies is not as simple as educating young people about contraception. It’s about multi-agency work to instil confidence and knowledge to help young people to cope with all kinds pressures and make their own positive choices.”

The NHS Bristol teenage pregnancy strategy leader, Anne Colquhoun also added that: “We know from research that there is no easy answer to reducing teenage pregnancy rates but by ensuring that sexual health advice and support services are easily accessible, improving sex education and targeting those most at risk are incredibly important.”

There is a been an obvious effort made by the NHS and Council to educate people early on in life about sexual health. Specialists now enter schools to educate young people on other issues being raised at the moment too, like sexting. They intervene in cases where people look most at risk and offer education to them on how life can always be changed. These services are ever moulding to keep up with modern pressures and Bristol has now seen this encouraging decline in young pregnancies because of it.

I myself have visited NHS sexual health clinics in Bristol at times and was impressed with their capability and facilities used to address the issues I raised. I thought and have shared that it seemed like a well oiled machine that was informed and capable of tackling the different situations.

At a time when the NHS’s reputation is fragile, initiatives like this are some of what would be seriously missed. We wouldn’t have half this good news without them and our Council caring for Bristol youth’s future. Young people are being given the education to make good decisions with repercussions that will benefit the whole city.

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