Today at the Cornwall College Union Building, a partnership between Cornwall Council (Health Promotion Service), RCHT’s Sexual Health Services and Cornwall College launch a ground breaking interactive film that uses humour to get young people talking about sexual health. This film stars the comedian Kernow King, who has used his own comic talents to deliver this important message on sexual health. The film is targeted at those aged 15 years and over, and the film will be used in schools and further education colleges across Cornwall. This film is also the first of its kind to be launched in England.
Sex maybe a hot topic for young people, but discussing safe sex is not always high on the agenda. This why this film delivers the right information and brings the subject of sexual health to the forefront of their thoughts, but without scaring young people about sexual health. It is important for young people to remain healthy and informed and to know that there is plenty of support available to them if they need it. And that support is not terrifying.
This film has been commissioned because the young people tell us there was very little relationship and sexual education available to them. They also have fears and barriers accessing what they see as intrusive sexual health testing services and wanted a current, informative and a fun approach to Relationship and Sexual Health (RSE).
There are so many myths and rumours surrounding sex and sexual health. This is why it is critical young people receive the right and most up to date information. I believe this new resource with make a real difference to our young people’s lives. Not only will it help them to be healthier, it will also encourage them to have the kind of conversations that really matter.
The popular myth is young people are having sex earlier. Data shows this is not the case. National data published in the Lancet gives good solid data with regards to sexual lifestyles and attitudes of our young people. This is called NATSAL. It shows that two-thirds of young people don’t have sex until at least 16 and that there was no significant change between NATSAL 2000 and NATSAL 2010. The average age of first sex for those aged 16-24 now is 16 years. For Cornwall, the average age of having sex for the first time is 16 for young women and is 17 years for young men.
It is important to say it is not all about sex, as a big part of this subject is about relationships. Hence why the whole subject is called Relationship and Sexual Education. I feel it is important we equip our young people with the right information as they progress into adulthood. For far too long, the issue of RSE has been stuck on the fringes of education, when in fact it should be amongst the core subjects in our education system. I am heartened that so many bodies and organisations want RSE to be a core subject. Yet, the Government remains blinkered to what young people want.
I will however in my role as portfolio holder for children and young people continue to champion this subject by working with those organisations who see the importance of good RSE. It is also important to debunk the many myths and misunderstandings surrounding RSE.
The good news is the message on good sexual health is getting through. As the latest figures showing cases of Chlamydia reduced by 15% last year. In Cornwall, the average rate of teenage pregnancies (under 18) has fell from 30.6 per 1000 in March 2012 to 26.2 per 1000 in March 2014. This shows by giving our young people the right information, we can continue to reduce STD’s and teenage pregnancies in Cornwall. However, we must do more.
I am grateful to Kernow King for giving his support and time to this important subject. I am also grateful to the different organisation and Motion Farm, the film makers, for working together to produce this excellent film. Special thanks to Emma and Matt who did much of the hard work putting this film together and the lesson which goes with this film. Well done indeed.