30 years ago

11th March 2005 at 00:00
"Schools are doing nothing like enough in the sex education of boys," Dr James Hemming, psychologist and author, told guidance teachers at a conference on adolescent stress reported in The TES Scotland of March 14, 1975.

Young men were not being trained to a sense of responsibility, said Dr Hemming. Girls complained that boys had no feelings. The pressures of society encouraged young males to exploit girls.

Sexual development brought suffering to both boys and girls, though boys were usually more cagey. Both needed reassurances from anyone who could provide it. They worried about their normality, about their ability to make friends, about the genuineness of their feelings, and about how far they should go.

Now in the post-prudish age the pressure on young people was to go faster than their natural pace. Their natural inclination was to move tentatively towards deeper relationships.

The acceptance of adolescent sexuality brought adults into quite a new area of guidance. If adults just said "no", adolescents rejected them as unrealistic; if adults said "yes, but not yet" the situation was transformed . . .

Adults must throw in their lot with guided adolescent sexuality, not with old fashioned taboos or "anything goes".

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