Introduction With the focus of SRE mainly unwanted pregnancies and STIs, due to the growing statistics, is that enough to educate and empower young people (YP) to help reduce them, or should we focus on the positives, like sexual pleasure and what sex actually is, to really engage young people and motivate behaviour change? In 2014, while working for a sexual health charity in West London, a College student approached the mobile sexual health clinic that I partnered with to encourage young people to STI test. He concluded that SRE was too ‘negative’ and just about STIs and unwanted pregnancies and so I invited him to help me develop a resource that makes SRE more ‘positive’. Preceding that incident, ‘Talking to Young People about sexual pleasure’ training facilitated by Sussex University Researcher, Ester McGeeney (EM), was attended.
Methods In partnership with the student and EM, we put together a questionnaire to gather qualitative research to find out what YP want from SRE and what they understood about good and bed sex. From July 2014 – Dec 2015, 297 young people (148 females, 148 males, 2 unknown) were interviewed anonymously at 14 locations (6 × YP Hostels; 4 × Youth Centres; 2 × YP Charities; 3 × Colleges) with the majority of those YP residing in West London (60%; 25% from South; 2% from North; 5% from East London and 8% unknown). The majority of the participants were BME (56% Black; 5% Asian; 23% Other) with 12% from a White background and 4% unknown.
Results The top 4 topics that the YP wanted to know about, are already on the curriculum – Relationships (13%); Safe sex, condom use & negotiation (12%); STIs (12%); Being ready for sex/Consent (10%). However, the topics of Pleasure (7%) and the act of sex (8%) weren’t far behind. The top 6 answers on what the YP understood what good sex was included Pleasure/Satisfaction (23%); Having a connexion (13%); Feeling/Being in Love (11%), Safe sex (10%); Mutual Feelings (9%); Passionate (8%). The top 5 answers on what YP understood what bad sex was, included Rape (18%), Mechanical/No feelings/Just for pleasure (15%); Unsatisfying/Incompatible/Disappointing (14%); Too quick/Premature Ejaculation (11%); Unprotected sex.
Discussion This shows that if YP know that good sex is about pleasure and having a connexion with someone, and bad sex involves no consent, no pleasure and no feelings, then surely we need to be adding more about sexual pleasure and how this relates to healthy relationships and consenting to sex, to SRE?