Teenagers want more of a say of what they're taught in sex education lessons, according to a new survey.

The study of over 2,000 14-18 year olds, found that 47 per cent of school pupils think their school's Sex and Relationships (SRE) does not meet their needs.

It also found that the lack of relevant SRE in schools and at home means 81 per cent of teenagers are getting most of their sexual health knowledge from their friends and the internet.

Only 6 per cent of those questioned said they were getting the information they needed from their SRE lessons.

The research, commissioned by Brook, the country's largest young people's sexual health charity, illustrates the impact on young people that the country's lack of commitment to good sex education, out-of-date guidelines for schools and a lack of support for well-qualified teachers is having.

Jules Hillier, Brook deputy chief executive, says: "Young people in Britain deserve honest, useful information about sex and relationships but SRE in UK schools is failing them. Standards vary so wildly that all too ofen young people miss out on the information they need to stay safe, healthy and happy. Worse, we know that the void is not being filled by reliable information from elsewhere - like parents - but from the playground and, even more worrying, internet porn."

Some of the most common shared sex myths amongst peers are, according to the survey:

  • They have wrongly heard from friends that a woman cannot get pregnant if the man withdraws before he ejaculates.
  • They have wrongly heard that women cannot get pregnant if they are having a period.
  • They have wrongly heard that women cannot get pregnant if they have sex standing up
  • They have wrongly heard that women cannot get pregnant if it is the first time she has had sex
  • They have wrongly heard that you can only catch HIV from gay sex


Jules continues: "Learning about sex and relationships is a crucial life skill and by letting teenagers leave school ill-informed we are letting them down. We are calling on young people to seixe the opportunity to make their voices heard by telling us what they think 21st century SRE should cover, to better meet their needs."

Schools are not required to consult with their pupils to shape SRE lessons, and 78 per cent of young people confirm that they have never been asked. As the government recently announced a review of Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHE), 82 per cent of young people said they want schools to take their views into account to help make SRE relevant to the 21st century.

Yessica, a Brook volunteer, says: "My school didn't offer SRE classes until Year 11, when I was 15 going on 16, by which time I was pregnant so it was too late. I wasn't allowed to take part in the lessons as the teacher said it wouldn't be relevant for me, so I had to look elsewhere for information which was often incorrect.

"I do not blame my school for my decisions but if I was taught SRE sooner adn had been given honest, accurate information when I needed it, I would have had a different mentality and would have made different choices."


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