No sex please - we're respectful teenagers

24th July 1998 at 01:00
They still have to battle with raging hormones, so have young people's attitudes to matters sexual really changed? David Bull thinks so. Nadene Ghouri reports.

"OH MY lord. Don't call me some kind of teenage sex guru. That would be too cheesy!" Whether he likes it or not, guru of all things sexual is exactly what David Bull, children's television personality and author of a new book on teenage sex lives, is about to become to the pubescent masses.

The GP is rapidly becoming known as a kind of Dr Hilary Jones of youth television, although he says he is much naughtier.

With slots on BBC's Newsround and The Really Useful Show, as well as regular contributions to an array of teenage magazines and radio programmes, Dr Bull is on a one-man mission to take all things healthy to the youth of the nation.

However, what is mildly surprising is that a book likely to become a teenage sex bible advocates not doing it at all. Cool and Celibate? Sex Or No Sex is about putting friendship and respect first. Dr Bull says: "Teenagers today are so clued up on this whole girlboy power thing. Kids who would once have tried to sleep with as many people as possible are changing. Now it's more about wanting respect."

He is infuriated that the book's concept raises eyebrows. "I just do not understand why we have a problem talking to children in this country. It's England's biggest problem, it really is.

"We have one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in the world and still people say we shouldn't be telling children about sex. Of course we should. Give them the right information and we can trust them to make the right decisions. But withhold information, and well ...".

It is this "trust the kids" attitude that has turned 29-year-old Dr Bull into a teenage celebrity. On a recent shopping trip he was trailed for two hours by three teenage girls, anxious to see what labels Dr Dishy bought. A TV appearance in a pair of swimming trunks is bringing sackfuls of fan mail.

"It's flattering, but you have to careful with it or you can get yourself into trouble. I'd rather the kids liked me for who I am, not because I'm famous, " he says.

His book, published this month, is a modern take on the classic theme of not doing it too early. A combination of "what would you do?" case studies, medical advice and plain talking, it comes complete with heart-studded blank diary pages for secret jottings.

"When the publisher first approached me with the title I thought 'urgh'. Celibacy might be cool, it might not - I don't know. I can tell teenagers not to take drugs or smoke because they are bad for you - which they are - but it won't work because they will still do it. With sex, it's even more complicated because it's nice and it isn't bad for you, although the wrong sex can be."

Dr Bull says he was a "very, very naive" teenager, but does have fond memories of the occasional romantic encounter in a haystack while growing up in Suffolk. "I'm just like big brother. I don't claim to know all the answers, but I will confide what I do know."

'Cool And Celibate? Sex or No Sex', Element Children's Books, Pounds 3. 99. Call 01747 851339 for orders.

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