Friday, 10 December 2010

The NHS is sending dirty texts to your child!

It's often said that there are few certainties in life; death, taxes, George Lucas pissing everybody off, Jamie Redknapp misusing the word 'literally'. You can add to that 'the Daily Mail getting outraged at any attempt by authorities to provide any kind of sexual advice to anyone under the age of 18'.

Today's 'controversy' is outlined in the ridiculously titled Sex texts for teens: Controversy as NHS promotes mobile advice line for children as young as 13. Or, as it was previously titled, "Sexting for teens: NHS promotes mobile advice line for children as young as 13". You can still see the previous title in the title bar at the top. The Mail likes to rethink its headlines, but this is a slightly strange one as it drops the more lurid 'sexting' but at the same time adds 'controversy' into the mix. Perhaps the original didn't have a rent-a-quote to back up the controvery claim.

Anyway, it's clear from the off that author Sophie Borland and whoever wrote the title want you to think this is all rather seedy. First of all, as you've probably worked out, this is sex advice via text, rather than 'sex texts' or 'sexting'. The NHS is not sending your teenager texts asking them what they're wearing right now and luring them into describing their sex fantasies in great detail, cock in hand. That is the job of dirty liberals like me! It begins;
Children as young as 13 are being sent sex advice by text message under a controversial NHS scheme.
There's nothing particularly untrue about that sentence, but it does make it sound rather like this is unsolicited advice. It isn't. It is an advice service for young people who have questions about sex, pregnancy and sexual health which they feel uncomfortable talking to their peers or parents about. You send a text, you get advice back from an anonymous but trained professional who won't judge you or tell you you're going to burn in hell.

The article goes on to outline the basic, fairly sensible sounding principles behind it. But, as predictably as night follows day with sex education stories, it's not long before the poorly evidenced claims that sex education encourages our kids to fuck rear their head:
But campaigners warn that the text service – funded by taxpayers – is simply encouraging promiscuity among underage youngsters.
Funded by taxpayers, no less! Who would have thought! Still, who are these 'campaigners'? The Mail cites one:
Norman Wells, director of Family and Youth Concern, said: ‘Not only does it undermine parents by presenting itself as an authoritative source of advice on sex, relationships and sexual health, but it also fails to respect the age of consent by offering a service to children under 16.

‘The information provided is not even accurate. The website fails to tell visitors that condoms provide much less protection against sexually transmitted infections than they do against pregnancy, and says nothing about the health benefits of keeping sex within a lifelong, mutually faithful relationship with an uninfected partner.’
You know the drill by now. An unelected, unaccountable, campaigner gets space to mouth off because his opinions chime with the editorial stance of the Mail. Family And Youth Concern are not sexual and reproductive health experts. They are a bunch of concerned conservatives with traditional values. Of course the advice does not tell young people to wait til they're married. This is advice to people who will in many cases already be having sex. They are looking for advice, not a moral lecture. If you want advice about sexual health, you go to a health professional. That is what they are qualified to do. If you want traditional moral guidance, text your local preacher. I'm not sure what Wells wants here. Does he want there to be no sex advice line at all? Or does he simply want every response to say "Are you 16 yet? If not, don't do it. Ever"?

In the spirit of swashbuckling investigative journalism for which it is renowned, the Mail poses as an anonymous young person to ask for advice. What they discovered was shocking boring.


There you have it then. Crushingly boring, sensible sex advice to concerned young people seeking it. It's a bloody outrage!


  1. you are right it is a descdrace goverment help line should never provide clear usfull information

  2. i'm sorry but did the daily mail just report that condoms are not effective at preventing transmission of STDs or am i misreading it?

    because if that is what that quote is saying then that is frightening. and absolutely stupid, and potentially dangerous. far far more dangerous than an advice line advising young people to take precautions and be safe

  3. You're right Sian, I probably should have made a bigger deal of that. They're just quoting direct from the dubious 'Family and Youth Concern', but you're right, that's fucking awful advice. Which is why I'm glad he wasn't consulted by the NHS when they put this together.

  4. it seems like there must be some way to complain about that, because they simply cannot go around telling people blatant lies that might endanger their sexual and reproductive health.

  5. oh, i guess they're reporting a quote, so can say they aren't responsible for it, in that sneaky way in which all newspapers get around any complaints.