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CAMHS won't see you now

What about common sense?

Teenagers know about sex – the nuts and bolts – but less about relationships. With one hand we give them condoms, and with the other we deny them the time and resources to develop the skills to use the contraceptive technology available in a responsible and relationship-based way.

So let us think again and use the evidence. The current message of 'safer sex: use a condom' is not working. In a climate of narrative medicine,- let's listen to our patients' stories.

Having worked in both genitourinary medicine and in general practice, many of the stories I hear are about disempowered teenagers who do not have the skills to say no to sex when they don't want it. Let's take stock of what is currently available and might work.

One such method is APAUSE – Added Power And Understanding in Sex Education – which has received a glowing report from the National Foundation for Educational Research.

This approach is expensive but there is evidence that it has both health and educational benefits with a positive effect on behaviour. Other locality-based schemes are developing in the UK, based on abstinence, self-esteem or relationships.

We need to think again. Let's get it right before more teenagers are damaged and wounded by non-evidence-based ideologies that have harmed our young people in a way that neither terminations nor infertility treatment can truly remedy.

Dr Rhona Knight


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