When I was eleven and in my first year at Grammar School there was a lad in our class of Polish parentage, highly intelligent but with nervous shakes when agitated. Needless to say he was ridiculed unmercilessly. However he was treated with total derision when he turned up at school with a medical text book showing how babies were conceived. The facts of life were rejected out of hand to the cry “our parents wouldn’t do that!” - and the consensus was indeed that the boy was mad.
By the time I reached the fifth year, now at a Comprehensive School, one of the lads boasted to the class about his sexual prowess. He told us that he used the rubber that formed the ink reservoir inside his fountain pen as a condom. The rubber tube was about the width of a pencil and a third of the length. What I find incredulous now is not that he made the claim but we all believed him.
We went on to be the generation of the Swinging Sixties – the age of free love or more correctly free sex. I have to say that nobody in my circle had an unwanted pregnancy or indeed an abortion… the pill ruled O.K. Yet I am not as naive as to believe it didn’t happen – after all this was also the generation of “Up The Junction” (1963 book, 1965 TV and 1968 film) and back street abortions.
On today’s UK news there is much angst over the problems of teenage pregnancies and abortions – how Britain leads the league table in Europe. In my blog of last week I gave the annual figure for abortions in Spain and mentioned the government’s policy to allow 16-year-olds the right to have an abortion without informing their parents.
Whatever the cause of this boom in unwanted pregnancies is it is not lack of knowledge. If you repeated the above stories to a first or fifth year pupil at senior school they would look at you in disbelief. Whilst for my generation sex education is what you did behind the bike sheds (when you weren’t smoking) today it’s on the curriculum. Contraception of all types is freely available. So the boom in teenage pregnancies is not down to lack of knowledge or the availability of protection – so what is the cause?