By Zoe Smith
The editor of CosmoGIRL! delivered a petition to No. 10 Downing Street earlier this week, calling for compulsory, quality sex and relationships education in secondary schools.
The petition, which was signed by more than 2,000 of the magazine’s readers, whose average age is 15, is part of CosmoGIRL!’s Just Say Know campaign to inform young girls about sex, which launched in December last year.
CosmoGIRL! editor Celia Duncan said: "Quality sex education is not a new thing. In Northern Europe it has been going on for years and it has had a direct effect on the number of teen pregnancies. It is high time that the Government really listened to young people and made a concerted effort to protect a generation."
Of the 500 letters sent each week to CosmoGIRL! problem pages, around 80 per cent are to do with sex and relationships.
Duncan said she was glad that the publication’s agony aunts were able to advise her readers, but added that girls should not have to write in to get answers to basic issues such as sexual health concerns.
Compulsory sex and relationships education (SRE) within personal social and health education (PSHE) is only available at a few schools in the UK, because lessons are optional and standards are not universal. The CosmoGIRL! survey found that 81 per cent of teens said their SRE "could be better" and 31 per cent said it was "absolute rubbish".
Duncan dismissed claims that teens were turning away from magazines and towards the internet as their preferred source of information on sex and relationships.
"Magazines have a uniquely intimate relationship with their readers, it’s very one-on-one in terms of talking about their inner feelings. That’s what CosmoGIRL! is about — championing them and what they want to do with their lives," she said.