Introduction There remains ongoing debate regarding the value of sex education in schools and if today’s young people subsequently rely on alternative resources to learn about sex and relationships.
Aims As a provider of sexual health services for young people aged under 25 we wanted to establish if there was an expectation amongst service users for us to provide sex education.
Methods Questionnaires were distributed to all service users between April and September 2014. Questions were designed to assess how sexual knowledge had been acquired, and which method of knowledge acquisition was most valued.
Results 179 service users completed questionnaires. 160 were female, 149 were heterosexual. Median age was 18.6 years.
177 (98.9%) reported receiving sex education at school which predominantly covered reproduction and contraception. Comparing methods of knowledge acquisition advice from friends was the most valued (84, 46.9%), followed by sexual partners (57, 31.8%) and family (56, 31.3%). Formal sex education was only valued by 34 (19.0%), with sexual health clinic advice valued by 32 (17.9%).
The desire for more sex education at school was mixed with 74 (41.3%) wanting more and 106 (59.2%) requesting no change or were unsure. 46 (25.7%) requested an increase in education from our clinic.
Conclusion Service users valued knowledge gained from peers and family over current methods of formal sex education with no significant desire to increase current educational provision. Sexual health services should engage young people in discussions regarding this peer-based learning to reinforce good sexual health and dispel inevitable myths.
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