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Boys too shy to talk of 'feelings and stuff'

Teenage boys want to talk about their feelings, understand women and learn what makes their girlfriends happy. They also want to look at pornography.

Gillian Hilton, of Middlesex University, asked more than 300 sixth-form boys what they would like to be taught during sex education classes. A significant number wanted to discuss their emotions.

Many complained that girls talk freely about "feelings and stuff", while they felt compelled to just laugh off any worries.

There was also a strong consensus that boys needed to know more about their female classmates, so that they could be more understanding towards them.

One boy described a conversation with a girl who was feeling unwell. He said: "She told me all about what having a period is like. It sounded horrible and made me feel really sympathetic."

Similarly, they wanted to learn how to be attentive sexual partners. One 17-year-old said he would like to be taught "how to give a woman pleasure. How not to hurt her if it's the first time."

Generally, the boys wanted to be able to discuss sexual techniques with a teacher who would not be embarrassed.

One 16-year-old moaned: "If you ask questions, classmates take the piss."

Another agreed: "It's like driving. As a boy you're expected to be able to do it."

The teenagers expressed a keen interest in pornography. Many demonstrated a detailed knowledge of where porn could be accessed. They wanted the opportunity to discuss the images of female sexuality presented there.

However, they were less willing to talk when the subject of homosexuality arose. Asked how he would react if his best friend came out as gay, one boy said: "I think I would run a mile."

* g.hilton@mdx.ac.uk

Sex education training Family Planning Association www.fpa.org.uktraining Department for Education and Skills PHSE certificate, www.phse-cpd.com

Brook Advisory Centres www.brook.org.ukcontentM1_Brooktrainingconferences.asp

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