In my role as Relationships and Sex Coordinator I obviously spend a lot of time in our local high schools teaching young people about all issues related to sex. There is often time for questions and I find that there are often many! Young people want to and need to know about these important life issues.
A national survey (youthscape.co.uk) was recently taken to discover the content of youth group sessions or church led services. The question ‘What are we talking about?’ was asked. I was quite staggered by the results. Less than 10% of the churches surveyed talked regularly about issues such as sex, relationships and pornography. Almost half of the churches surveyed said they did not address issues related to mental health at all. It is of course true that issues surrounding the basic beliefs of Christianity, prayer and the study of the Bible feel more comfortable in Sunday services or youth meetings held at church than topics on sex or pornography. It could be these issues are not addressed because people feel unprepared or somewhat uncomfortable, afraid of ‘opening up a can of worms’.
Young people were also polled to find out what they were interested in discussing at church. One of the topics that received the highest percentage was issues related to mental health and self-esteem. In addition, almost half said they wished that pornography was discussed and three quarters said they wished sex and relationships were discussed more fully. Incidentally almost half of the churches surveyed said this was something they never discussed.
I am passionate about helping young people grapple with these important issues. It is of course important that young people understand the basic beliefs about the Christian faith and how to grow in their daily Christian lives but if we do not equip them to tackle the challenging questions and have frank and open discussions about, let’s face it what are often uncomfortable things to talk about, they run the risk of searching for answers to these questions elsewhere, having dangerously misinformed views about sex and relationships and making mistakes that perhaps could be avoided if they were better equipped.
It is fantastic that as an organisation CSCW are invited into the local schools to deliver lessons on these very real issues. I am proud of the fact that as a team we are well equipped to answer the questions such as ‘What qualities make up a healthy relationships?’ ‘How can I improve my self-esteem? ’‘How can social media be harmful to my relationships?’ ‘Why is pornography harmful?’
We need to recognise that children and young people are constantly bombarded by images and language that are not helpful. We need to talk to young people about the things they need and want to talk about so that hopefully they are well equipped and will go on to make healthy and wise choices.
Written by Fi Mellor