When I was growing up, my father was my contraception. I decided not to have sex during my teens at an early age. Mainly because my peers were merely experimenting with sex and I refused to be part of their laboratory experiment. For as much as I was teased at school for not 'putting out', I certainly didn't regret my decision. Especially when my girlfriends were talking about their torrid experiences of losing their virginity with condoms being held up by rubber bands.
Now, volunteering for a pregnancy crisis centre, the approach to sex these days is no different. Teenagers still believe they are invincible and that sex will get someone to love them.
When I sit in a room with anyone aged 14 upwards, I'm asking them to show me how to place a condom on a plastic penis. Some of them can do it in seven seconds, with one hand; they know how to use one - but it doesn't explain why we're the second highest teenage pregnancy rate in the world.
Do they blame alcohol for their 'mistakes'? Yes. Do they fall into one-night stands at parties and talk of the shame and regret of not using anything the next time? Yes. Do they regularly check themselves for Chlamydia? Too often (especially if free cinema tickets are the incentive).
The majority struggled with confidence and assertiveness. They were toiled with whom they could trust and rely on in their lives. They wanted to be loved and if the lover wasn't going to use a condom in case it 'ruined the moment' they surrendered to his/her request. They would rather sacrifice their sexual health than not do it at all.
By the time they've come to us - it's too late to talk to them about contraception and STIs. We needed to crack it before this stage.
We started going into colleges. Not only talking to them about the fact that syphilis and gonorrhea were coming back with a vengeance, but what about love? What about the context in which they were having sex? What about relationships?
We're getting something very wrong and it's the fact that schools are too scared to talk about the fluffy parts of our lives that actually influence us to make the correct decisions. Confidence, avoiding hurting others, why every one is getting wasted, understanding that we have a right to say no; that sex doesn't bring you happiness and the majority of teenagers who end up having sex in their relationship - on average - will split up within three weeks.
There are some teenagers who would like to parent. We help them with financial signposting and guidance on raising a baby. But their want for teenage parenting is often down to not having much love around them.
I'm not dismissing young parents, but I do see the effects of abortion on these girls if they decide they cannot be a parent.
Abortion today is not seen as a last resort, it's seen as another form of contraception. The side-effects of abortion is as tragic for some as bereavement. It scars many women, causing issues in future relationships.
Pregnancy aside - every time these kids have sex, even if it's with a condom - they could be infected with HPV - the virus that is a major cause of cervical cancer. Very few seem to still be aware of this. After unprotected sex, they'll all get Chlamydia tests and heave a sigh of relief, but they're not checking the diseases that can't be cleared up with antibiotics.
We can't just screw around these days and have 'fun' - too many diseases are non-preventable but yet many teenagers are having sex, regardless of knowing this. This surely is down to their sense of invincibility, which we all suffer during adolescence, a lack of care for themselves and each other. Culturally, the media icons who make money off their sexuality and raunchiness exert confidence. Teaching kids that if we're sexy and having sex - we'll be confident.
The problem is, when they're in the room with us - the opposite is very apparent. They're destroyed by their actions, rejected by their boyfriends/girlfriends, yet many will repeat it again. It's time that we as parents, guardians and mentors remind them of the importance of faithfulness, commitment and relationships.
Only within these contexts can we crack down teenage pregnancy - the majority of which will end up in abortion. Proceeded by more sex to cover the guilt and so the sex/low self-esteem starts again.
We've spoken to nearly 1,000 students about healthy relationships; ones involving honesty, respect, communication and faithfulness. Did it help? Maybe. But perhaps, the more we talk about it - the more the culture will be less about using sex as the gateway to adulthood, and understanding sex is just sex.
The Netherlands have the lowest rate in Europe. The difference? Their culture says it's okay to say no, and many will only have sex within committed relationships.
When is Britain going to start teaching kids about confidence, consequences and assertiveness? When will we realise this isn't about condoms and the implant, this is about making them love themselves into the amazing generation they can be and often are.
When are we going to have the confidence in ourselves to gain the courage and have these conversations? The stiff upper lip is making Britain useless.
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