To kick off Sexual Health Week, which began on Monday, the the British Information Standards Board released new data on teens and sexual health, and the results are just a little bit scary. It looks like more teens turn to the Internet for their sexual health information than any other information source, and the sites they're turning to are less than trustworthy.
“Sexually transmitted infection rates are worryingly high amongst young people, accounting for more than half of all new diagnoses in England in 2010,” says Dominic Edwardes, of the Terrence Higgins Trust charity. “To reduce these figures we need to make sure that young people are equipped with trustworthy advice and understand how to have safe protected sex.”
The numbers are startling. Eighty percent of people aged 18-24 turn to the Internet for their diagnoses without even checking the street cred of the sites they find, and 55 percent of East England's youth have never even had a sexual health screening. And the vast majority believe pretty much all the false sexual health myths we all grow up with. You know the ones. No symptoms means no STI. Shaving your pubic hair can ward off crabs and lice.
“We want all young people to understand how to spot a trustworthy site,” says Ann Robinson, director of public awareness for the Information Standards Board. “Just because it ranks high in the search engine, for example, does not mean that it will provide informed advice. The only way to make sure a health and social care website is trustworthy is to look for the Information Standard’s quality mark. Without it, they could be putting their health at risk.”
Looking for some trustworthy sites to send your teens to for sex ed? You can find a whole list of them here on SexIs.