Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Teenage Sexual Health Crisis in the UK

The BBC web site ran this article recently about the crisis in Britain's Teenagers in regard to their sexual health. The following points are raised:
  • recent government campaigns had failed to recognise the link between drink, drugs and sexual health
  • the UK has the highest rates of teenage pregnancy and sexual infections in Europe
  • Increasing numbers of young teenagers are defining their lives by taking drugs, drinking alcohol and having under-age sex encouraged by today's celebrity culture.
  • Professor Mark Bellis, head of the centre for public health at Liverpool John Moores University and one of the authors of the report, called the link between alcohol, drugs and risky sexual behaviour a "fuel for a sexual health crisis".
  • "They see around them this culture of celebrities, in the newspapers, around sex and drugs, alcohol, all being brought together, and they're not being given alongside that the information and the education they need to handle issues like drugs and alcohol and sex as they're growing up."

One of the apparent answers to this was: It recommended condoms should be readily available to young people.

Now sorry if I have a rather simplistic view or understanding of the situation in Britain today. But the report and findings just state the blindingly obvious and also point the blame in entirely the wrong direction. Of course alcohol, drugs and sex is a very bad mixture indeed. I have no doubt that this is a reason for some of the very high rates of STD's and pregnancies in young people.

However why is no one asking why youth feel the need to get drunk, take drugs and participate in often illegal underage sex and without adequate protection? Surely the cause of our youths desperation and desire to escape in this way needs to be looked at. Why are our youth so casual about sex, drugs and alcohol. Why do they seem to have no respect for themselves or each other? Why do they have no moral framework within which to operate?

It is so easy to pint the finger at celebrity culture, the worship of celebrity, the media etc... They don't help certainly and have a lot to answer for in their morally bankrupt output. However I believe the cause has to be closer to home. What ever happened to parental responsibility? The modern parenting way seems to be to expect everyone else to teach their children about right and wrong, sexual health, boundaries etc... when the root responsibility is theirs. The modern approach to parenting that doesn't seem to be able to say no to kids has got to be at the heart of the issue. Children with no boundaries or moral code have no framework on which to build their understanding of the world around them and their relationship to it. They are the centre of their world. Add to that the pressures on teenagers from the media, peers and schooling and no wonder they feel the desperate need to escape into these things. The Moral Relativism that pervades modern culture also has a lot to answer for and the secularists who promote it need a kick up the backside and to open their eyes.

I find the situation so sad and so unnecessary. I am sure God sheds tears for the young people destroying their lives and potentially the life of an unborn child through abortion. Another article out today is about how Abortion rates are increasing again. 193,700 children were killed in the name of freedom of choice in 2006. That number is simply staggering and horrific. If you have sex and get pregnant take responsibility for your actions. If you are not prepared for the consequences then don't have sex. A child's life is not an inconvenience to be flushed away because a person is not ready etc... Tough!

Anyway the answer can only be found by surrendering your life to follow Christ and living within the framework laid out in scripture. True freedom and life can only be found there and not in celebrity, sex, drugs, or alcohol. Our teenagers need to know who they really are, created in the Image of God. They need to know how much they are valued and loved by the Lord God and He is where there identity lies. It is not found by escaping into all these other means. Sadly the well meaning agencies will only attempt to plaster over the cracks and not to clean out the wound. Only God through the church can do that!

I found this link on Christian Today that is about this issue and is a very insightful read.


Isabella in the 21st Century said...

To be honest I think we're experiencing a real crisis in parenting in the UK, but this stems from a rather skewed view of children and childhood. For many years our culture has told us that children somehow hamper freedom and that it is within our rights (and is sometimes our duty)prevent them. Yet the Bible tells us time and time again that children are a blessing.

Also, we tend to worship a tortured adolescence in this country. We think that it somehow makes Britain cool, for us all to have experienced sex, drugs, rock and roll from and early age. We're left with a generation of potentially damaged young people, who from the age of 12 onwards were left to pretty much get on with things themselves. Somehow to interfere with "their" culture is wrong and stifling. It's not, as although this is a time when children experiment with adulthood they still need support and guidelines from their parents.

Another factor is time and money. Our working hours, our commute, stress at work, well it's quite horrendous. We spend so much of our energies working outside the home that what do we have left to give when we finally return at 6 or 7 at night? It's a catch 22 situation we MUST work all the hours in the day to afford the children we have. But perhaps this is not true, if we avoid the perils of rabid consumerism then one or both parents can cut back a bit on their working hours and spend their energies on what's really important. We spend, we get into debt, we work more to pay off the debt, we spend some more because material goods somehow define us and we parents just knacker ourselves out doing it. We have no time for those expensive things in the creche our parents warned us against.

I'm so sorry for this long comment, but I'm really concerned with how are children are viewed and treated within our culture.



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