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Sex education: a touchy subject

We read with interest "The bottom line" in TES Magazine (December 3). There is a complex range of reasons for the poor sexual health of our young people and, in common with most other areas of public health, the strongest are socio-demographic.

However, the article focused solely on teacher embarrassment, suggesting that if only teachers could get over this and answer with accuracy and confidence a wide-ranging assortment of questions asked by their pupils, we would be well on the way to overcoming one of our toughest challenges in public health.

But there are other barriers, including: providing sufficient curriculum time; working with all the other agencies involved with good sexual health; linking with primary schools; and providing teachers with training and support.

Unfocused and uncritical discourse has surrounded sex and relationships education (SRE) for years. The result is that teachers feel so de-skilled they believe the only people who can deliver this kind of teaching are experts, trainers and theatre companies.

We hope you will return to this issue and share a wider range of information with teachers that allows them to work more effectively in the classroom.

Dr Petra M Boynton, lecturer in international healthcare research, Division of Medical Education, UCL

David Evans, former teacher and co-founder of the SRE project

Alice Hoyle, sex education teacher.

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