Subjects: Behavioral health
As US officials continue wrangling over the merits of abstinence-only sex education, their British counterparts have settled on an altogether different message.
In two new leaflets, the NHS tells elderly Brits that it’s “never too late to experiment” with sex and advises teens that sex every day “keeps the doctor away.”
British tabloids, which frequently publish photos of topless women, ran like rabbits with the story.
“Urging (teens) to enjoy their own bodies is a bit like encouraging cows to eat grass or birds to fly,” laughed the Independent.
“It’s much more fun than an apple a day,” mused the Sun.
The leaflet for older folks provides information about contraception and dating agencies. 2,000 copies were distributed to GP’s offices, libraries and health centers. It is also available on the NHS Web site.
The leaflet for teenagers, which is titled, “Pleasure,” was released by the NHS to teachers, parents and youth workers. It suggests that in addition to 5 portions of fruits and vegetables, and 30 minutes physical activity 3 times per week, some form of sexual activity “twice a week” might be healthy as well.
The leaflet prompted outraged parents to flood NHS message boards and educators to charge that the NHS encouraged promiscuity.
The UK has the highest rate of teen pregnancy in Western Europe.
Steve Slack, the director of the NHS’s Center for HIV & Sexual Health and a coauthor of the guides, defended them in a statement saying that one objective was to encourage teens to delay sexual intercourse until they were ready and confident they would enjoy it.
Meanwhile, 71 year-old Bob Ainsley was quoted in several British newspapers saying: “We don’t need a leaflet to tell us we can still have sex.”