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Mental Health

Sex phobia in the UK is dangerous and here’s why

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

What was sex education in the UK like for you? To me, it was useless. I have learnt more in the bedroom than I ever have in a sex education class in the UK. Yes, it is laughable, but to me it is beyond terrifying. Having grown up with a Dutch background, the conversation of sex in my household is just as natural as the conversation of what we are having for dinner that night. I had my first relationship at the age of 16 and the first thing my mum did was sit me down with a doctor and discuss my options of birth control. Even though the idea of having sex wasn’t exactly on my mind that early on, prevention is safer than ignoring what was inevitably going to happen.  

When I tell my friends that children in the Netherlands have sex education as early as nursery, I am usually startled with the reaction I get. When I moved to Scotland at the age of 10, I was quite confused to find out that almost everyone in my class hadn’t had a proper sex education class yet and we weren’t due to learn about sex until we were 12. The main reason? Because parents felt it was inappropriate to teach kids before then. It gets more confusing though. While these parents had these views, they were also having encouraging conversations with their kids about that one boy or girl in their child’s class that obviously fancies them, and they should ask out. Along with this, UK parents, the same as any other parent, are letting their children play with baby dolls and pretend to play happy families. Yet kids weren’t being taught about the autonomy of how families are created. 

Sex is normal. We all do it. Little kids stumble into the way of triggering physical arousal but have no clue what it is or what it means. Around 85% of adults say when they were a child, they remember playing sexual games with other children before hitting puberty. Scariest part is, they had no idea what it really was. Strange, isn’t it? 

In the UK, parents are more likely to encourage sex prevention than sex education. Not only is this extremely dangerous, but it also does not work. While no study has been done in the UK, according to CNN, the US has a similar issue on sex education. A survey found 68% of teens agreed they are not on birth control because they are afraid their parents will find out. Additionally, The Cut states a majority of UK parents have banned their child’s partner from staying the night.  

So, to most, this doesn’t seem very surprising. To me, this outdated traditionalism is alarming. First of all, it feels gloomy to me children have to go behind their parents back in order to have safe, protected sex. If a condom bursts and you’re on no other birth control, you will have no clue what to do in that situation, where you are also too scared to turn to your parents. You would be terrified. Secondly, if someone isn’t allowed to have sex in their own home, where are they going to do it? Behind a bush? In the back seat of a car? Both allowing a teen to be on birth control and letting them be in their own room with their partner should be essential to making sure someone is having safe sex. The fact of the matter is, if two people want to have sex, they are going to have sex. 

In the wonderful words of Maeve Wiley from Sex Education: “We shouldn’t be shamed for having sexual desires. You [the school] make sex sound terrifying, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be fun and beautiful and teach you things about yourself and your body. You should be telling us how to do that safely. Not telling us how to refrain from being sexually active because that doesn’t fucking work.”  

I couldn’t have put that any better myself. Sex is natural. Sex is a need. It is how we learn more about ourselves and our partner. Not only is it beneficial to our romantic relationships, it is also beneficial for our health. No, it is not a sin. It is your body and your choice. No one should be telling you what hormones you can’t put in it and who you can and can’t shag (remember to get consent from the other person though). Birth control is normal. Sex is normal. Don’t ever listen to anyone who says otherwise, because they are nothing but threatening to a safe and healthy sex life. Sex phobia is not normal, and it needs to be eliminated from British society immediately before another person has a sexual accident due to the lack of sex education in the UK. 

Esmee Johnston

Aberdeen '22

4th year Politics and International Relations student
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