Youth work and social care news from around the world

Links from around the world of youth work and social care:

Study finds Sex & Relationships Education doesn’t reduce STIs and teen pregnancy

Young Couple Relaxing Near River Enjoying Sunny Day

The following is excerpted from an online article posted on LifeSiteNews:

A new peer-reviewed study of multiple “sexual and reproductive health” educational programs in several countries finds no evidence of improved health outcomes in any program studied.

According to the authors of the study, “School-based interventions for preventing HIV, sexually transmitted infections, and pregnancy in adolescents,” published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, “There is little evidence that educational curriculum-based programs alone are effective in improving sexual and reproductive health outcomes for adolescents.”

The study’s authors reviewed eight studies that examined sex-education programs in schools in Africa, Latin America and Europe with a total of 55,157 participants, and performed randomized controlled trials on their data. They found the programs had no measurable impact on the rate of sexually-transmitted diseases among participants or rates of pregnancy.

“In these trials, the educational programs evaluated had no demonstrable effect on the prevalence of HIV or other STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections),” the authors write, noting that in addition to HIV infection they also looked at results regarding herpes and syphilis. “There was also no apparent effect on the number of young women who were pregnant at the end of the trial,” they add.

The authors note that many studies of adolescent sex-education programs measure the programs’ effectiveness by examining their “effects on knowledge or self-reported behavior” rather than “biological outcomes” such as the rates of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases among program participants. In examining biological outcomes, the authors could find no benefit from such programs.

The findings of the study are consonant with other studies of “comprehensive” sex-education programs that show them to be ineffective or even counterproductive, particularly in comparison with abstinence-only programs.

Naked Attraction and Holy Lust

Naked Attraction and Holy Lust

Rachel Gardner has written a brilliant blog on ‘Naked Attraction’ the latest Channel 4 trashy attempt at a programme linked to sex and relationships:

the problem with ‘Naked Attraction’ is that it hasn’t been done out of this spirit. The progressive liberal spin that says ‘this is art’ seems blind to the blatant fact that people will be getting a kick out of seeing full frontal nudity of bright young bodies. The creators of the show may be using nudity as a tool to provoke us to explore the true identity of the people we date, but how does focusing on the girth of a penis help anyone discover the hidden depths of someone’s character? Are they less likely to emotionally scar you if they have good pecs? Are they more likely to cherish your hopes and understand your insecurities if they have huge breasts?

The truth is that the internet has killed the idea of censorship, so if you’re a producer wanting good ratings why try and beat porn sites that blow your viewing stats out of the water when you can join them? Programmes like ‘Naked Attraction’ and ‘Sex Box’ aren’t about addressing the relational well- being of young people. They’re not about helping young adults find love in uncertain times. This isn’t a positive contribution to empowerment or education or art. This is voyeurism dressed up as freedom. This is our ongoing submission to the pornification of culture. It’s about broadcast numbers and money – and it’s a dull exchange.

But as shallow and distasteful as these shows invariably are, they none the less demonstrate something unknowingly redemptive.

Go read the rest of her blog to find out how the show unwittingly brought something redemptive to our screens.

Britain’s youngest parents

Baby

A 12-year-old girl has given birth to her 13-year-old boyfriend’s baby, making them Britain’s youngest parents.

The girl, at 12 years, three months, is the UK’s youngest mother, after giving birth to a 7lb baby girl last weekend.  She fell pregnant at 11, while still at primary school, shortly after starting a relationship with a boy who lives near her family home in north London, The Sun reports.

The parents, who cannot be identified due to legal reasons, have the lowest combined age of any British parents in history.

A source close to the family said the pair, who have been in a relationship for over a year, were ‘totally in love’ and plan to bring up their newborn daughter together.  They told The Sun:

“Both sets of grandparents are incredibly supportive. It’s a very difficult situation because the parents are both so young – but their families are right behind them.  The baby’s mum and dad have been in a relationship for more than year, so this isn’t a fleeting romance. They intend to stick together and bring their daughter up together.”

The young mother’s father later confirmed both sets of grandparents have been ‘very supportive’ of the young parents.  The baby’s grandfather broke his silence to radio station LBC, admitting that both families only discovered the news when the unnamed girl was eight months pregnant:

“Before people judge they should find out what’s happened.  All we can do is be supportive, which is what we’re doing.  It is heartbreaking, of course it is. For any man to find out their daughter has become pregnant. It is but you can’t turn back time, you can only go forwards.”

The man, who is separated from his daughter’s mother, said they had not allowed the sexual relationship but said he could not watch his daughter 24/7.  As a business owner he hit out at accusations the family were dependent on benefits and said: ‘We’re not scroungers. I will support this baby as much as I can with my own money.’

He described the new father as a ‘great kid’ and claimed he would prefer this situation to discovering his daughter had been taking drugs.  When asked whether he was ashamed, he told LBC ‘shame doesn’t come into it’ and said he still felt ‘proud’ of his daughter.  He added: ‘She’s brought something beautiful into the world and we’re going to stand by her.’

The proud parents posted a picture of them posing with their baby daughter online.  The young mother, who lives with her mother, hopes to return to school in September.  At 27, her mother is one of the UK’s youngest ever grandmothers.

As a youth worker there are so many context questions I want to ask about this news story, but it does make me come back to the importance of the church leading on SRE for our children and young people.