Parents today! It's a wonder all female teenagers aren't up the duff

They seem to prefer to leave sex education to some hard-pressed biology teacher, or to EastEnders, to demonstrate the problems associated with teenage pregnancy

Share

It's a big surprise in this day and age of
Eurotrash, with its pan-European display of male and female wobbly bits (ratio 1:100, but we have to pay lip-service to the real or imagined gender equality that we have today), and tabloid newspapers doubling up as masturbatory material for the hard of imagination, that many parents still find it excruciatingly embarrassing to broach the subject of sex education with their children.

It's a big surprise in this day and age of Eurotrash, with its pan-European display of male and female wobbly bits (ratio 1:100, but we have to pay lip-service to the real or imagined gender equality that we have today), and tabloid newspapers doubling up as masturbatory material for the hard of imagination, that many parents still find it excruciatingly embarrassing to broach the subject of sex education with their children.

A study carried out by the sexual health charity Marie Stopes International has discovered that there is strong resistance on the part of about a sixth of parents to ever mentioning sex and its attendant horrors to their equally unwilling offspring. It seems a quarter of parents have not attempted any mention of "it" to their 15-year-olds, preferring, perhaps, to leave it to some hard-pressed biology teacher, or to EastEnders, to demonstrate the problems associated with teenage pregnancy and the like.

If you haven't seen EastEnders, let me just fill you in. A current storyline involves a 15-year-old schoolgirl, remarkably insecure about her nice but not stunningly supermodelish looks, who, without any warning, gives birth to a child at home on the settee - to the detriment of her as-yet-unconsummated relationship with the best-looking boy in the square. (Still, not a bad excuse for turning down sex ... "I do beg your pardon but I think you'll find that particular area is occupied ... Oh my word, it's a girl.")

What is the covert message here? It seems to be that you forfeit some really good things by getting pregnant as a teenager, most importantly a tasty geezer; which is a more effective message, I suppose, than some grown-up telling you you're wasting your life, which is your full-time job as a teenager anyway.

Despite the reluctance of parents to inform on the pros and cons of copulation, children seem to be maturing much earlier sexually. Having witnessed the terrifying spectacle of five-year-olds hopping about at parties screeching "If you want to be my lover!" at the top of their voices, wearing Spice Girls crop tops and seeming ("seeming", of course, being the operative word) for all the world like far more sophisticated madams than their ages would suggest, I must admit that I had assumed all their sex education was out of the way just after potty training - certainly at a much earlier age than in the Sixties when I was a nipper.

In fact, all I can remember is the risible sex education we received in biology lessons which used words such as "insert" and "rhythmic", making the whole affair sound like an examination by an unpleasant friend of your dad's, as opposed to the bloody marvellous activity it can be.

When it comes to sex education we have failed as a society, too, to take into account different cultures, classes and expectations: so, unless parents want their kids to be on the receiving end of the standardised, physiological, generalised tosh that is meted out at school, they have no choice but to tell their children about things themselves.

We also need to remember that kids need different information at different stages of their lives. A friend of mine maintains that it is best to catch them young, before they are too embarrassed and before you are. So, when your six- or seven-year-old asks where babies come from, get stuck in there with some facts, rather than diverting them down Euphemism Alley with a load of old tosh about storks and gooseberry bushes, which has to be hastily revised when they realise that gooseberry bushes contain only horrible, hairy old gooseberries.

Obviously, the really difficult stage is when your kids metamorphose into Kevin the Teenager - which many seem to be doing at the age of nine or younger. They would rather hang, draw and quarter themselves than listen to you droning on about "really fulfilling relationships" and "a sensible approach to contraception".

Someone's got to do the dirty deed. But who? Well, if you're a right-wing Church of England vicar, for example, you're hardly likely to want a trendy teacher/eco warrior to lead your child towards group shenanigans, swinging from the trees with a load of Swampy lookalikes. Equally, an unreconstructed hippy couple aren't interested in their children being taught sex by a twinsetted, menopausal matron.

Thus, one's political views will have a huge bearing on all this. Lord knows what sort of thing Peter Stringfellow might be passing on to any child of his about the value of women and their place in society.

So how do we teach sex? Elements of sex education split between the physical - how not to get pregnant and how not to get a disease - and the emotional side of lurve.

You have to use someone whom the kids respect. We can all call to mind fairly easily the top five yoof role models. Why not enlist a few pop singers? And then you think, "Ah, yes, Eminem, very popular, sings a charming song about murdering his 'ho'." Maybe not.

Some other factors must be taken into account: like the bumbling, insensitive bravado of boys driven by peer-group pressure, and the almost tangible and painful wish to please that some young girls have, which might prevent them from asserting their right to be on the receiving end of a condom. Add to this copious amounts of alcohol and drugs, consumed to dull nerves and embarrassment, coupled with a compulsion to behave in exactly the opposite way to how your mum and dad want you to, and it's a wonder the entire female teenage population isn't up the duff.

Until teenage girls value and assert themselves more, and teenage boys are not driven by the insatiable mix of testosterone and the encouragement of their mates to be Conan the Barbarian, sex education will be as unpleasant a task for parents as having to tell their child it cannot have Nike trainers but only some rank old plimsolls bought in Woolies. Until then, let's just be thankful that only a sixth of parents can't face it.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Tradewind Recruitment: Key Stage 2 Teacher Required in Grays

£21000 - £40000 per annum + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Key Stage 2 tea...

Recruitment Genius: Software Development Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Kylie has helped to boost viewing figures for the talent show  

When an Aussie calls you a ‘bastard’, you know you’ve arrived

Howard Jacobson
The number of schools converting to academies in the primary sector has now overtaken those in the secondary sector – 2,299 to 1,884 (Getty)  

In its headlong rush to make a profit, our education system is in danger of ignoring its main purpose

Janet Street-Porter
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee