Spooked about sex

Tennessee teenagers had their pants scared back on with a special sex educational Halloween house.

Ray Crowley

Topics Politics

Last week I went to Camden Town to buy something black to wear for Halloween. I couldn’t help noticing a couple of shops had signs up advertising: ‘We sell gas masks.’ (If you want to find them, they’re next to the stalls selling poppers.)

Hmmm, Camden used to be so up-to-date on the latest alternative crazes. Apparently not, though, when it comes to protecting yourself from biological attack. Gas masks are so yesterday – smart New Yorkers have been stocking up on canaries because the birds will drop off their perches at the first sign of a chemical attack.

Not that Halloween is just about getting gothed up. Some people suffer the minor irritation of waking up to find their house covered in toilet paper or egg on their window. But if you are a young American, Halloween sex-education campaigns could have a far more traumatic and long-lasting effect.

It’s not that I’m obsessed with teenagers having sex. In fact, the idea of two 14-year-olds fumbling around is quite yuck. But somebody out there must really enjoy picturing youngsters at it, because as soon as you think you’ve heard it all somebody comes up with another dumb way of teaching teens about safe sex.

In Tennessee, teenagers had their pants scared back on with a special sex educational Halloween house. Young people got to wander around a gruesome maze in which they are frightened by pictures of diseased genitalia. Full colour photos of canker sores, genital warts, and bits infected with syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhoea replace ghouls, ghosts and ogres. Yeuch. Once the unlucky visitors finished looking around, they got a free sexual health test.

When will adults learn that trying to be educational in a gimmicky fashion doesn’t work? A Michigan teenager discovered this for himself, when suspended for dressing up as a vagina for a school Halloween contest. The costume of a pink cape and wig hair was designed to be anatomically correct by the boy’s midwife mother, but he still had to spend the rest of the week at home after winning first prize.

Young people just want to know the facts about sex, STDs and contraception. I’m not saying slapping down young erections with fat anatomy text books is a great idea, but surely the more stupidly information is put across, the less seriously anybody will take it.

Anyway, teenagers aren’t as dumb as you’d think when it comes to knowing about sex. Watching EastEnders the other day, my Mum tried to launch into a Sex Ed speech after seeing one of the characters go for an AIDS test. ‘Actually’, interrupted my teenage sister, ‘they’re not called STDs anymore, it’s STIs’. My other sister added: ‘Look – we didn’t listen when you said the pill worked because you hold it between your knees, and we’re not going to listen now.’

Next they’ll tell kids the only way to have 100 percent safe sex is to do it with a canary first.

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Topics Politics


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