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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:-  29 May 2006

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PRESSURE TO HAVE SEX HIGHLIGHTS THE NEED FOR BETTER SEX & RELATIONSHIPS EDUCATION

ChildLine, the 24 hour, children's helpline run by the NSPCC, this week called for better sex and relationships education, as it highlighted how children calling the helpline feel pressure to have sex at an early age, but lack knowledge about sexual health, staying safe and contraception.

Analysis of over 5,800 calls to the 24-hour helpline highlighted a lack of sex and relationships awareness among young people, with ignorance and embarrassment about sex putting the health and wellbeing of the UK's young people at risk.  ChildLine counsellors are concerned that rather than waiting till they are emotionally prepared, children are using alcohol as an emotional crutch to navigate an experience they feel they can't avoid.

Children as young as 12 tell ChildLine they are turning to alcohol to cope with the embarrassment of their first sexual experiences, and the confusion surrounding contraception means risks such as sexually transmitted infections or pregnancy are barely considered.

The figures show that children calling ChildLine are scared and misinformed about sex, relationships and contraception. ChildLine counsellors suggest that children believe contraception is expensive, and they don't know where to get free condoms; they think visits to their doctor aren't confidential. Other young people tell ChildLine that they don't know how to use condoms and that they believe the Pill will make them fat.

The figures show that very few children and young people call ChildLine for advice on STIs and, while lack of contraception is regularly mentioned, it is invariably in the context of pregnancy and not STIs. Faced with an array of options and pressures, it is clear that children calling ChildLine lack the education and information they need to keep themselves safe.

ChildLine as part of the NSPCC is calling on the Government to review Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) including learning about sexuality, relationships, safe sex and pregnancy, and to make this a statutory requirement in England. In Scotland, ChildLine believes there should be a review of the progress and implementations of the Respect and Responsibility strategy on improving sexual health. In Wales ChildLine would like to see a review of PSE and for the Welsh Assembly to review the delivery of sex and relationships education as recommended in Estyn's report. In Northern Ireland the curriculum is currently under review; as part of this review ChildLine would like to see schools delivering a realistic PSHE curriculum, which will help children and young people deal in a more informed and confident manner with the wide range of issues and choices that they are faced with when growing up in Northern Ireland today.

In addition ChildLine wants all schools to have advisory and support services where young people can turn for confidential advice on issues that concern them.

Anne Houston Director of NSPCC's ChildLine services, says:-  "It is clear from the calls to the helpline that children are living in a highly sexualised culture. The pressure on them to be sexually active, often from peers, means children frequently have sex before they are ready and without thinking about the consequences.  The majority of calls to ChildLine occur after the young person has already engaged in risky sexual behaviour, and although we are pleased they are seeking advice, the lack of knowledge some callers display, along with the lack of confidence to discuss their options with potential sexual partners, is frightening."

THE SAMSUNG MOBILE SPOT KICK CHALLENGE HITS LIVERPOOL!

COULD YOU BE THE NEXT DAVID BECKHAM?  Is England’s best penalty taker living undiscovered in your area? The Samsung Mobile Spot Kick Challenge is touring shopping centres across the country and on Saturday 3 June 2006, it will be arriving in Liverpool in a bid to find the ultimate penalty taker.

Ex-Everton football legend Neville Southall will be joining the search in the St John Centre in Liverpool So if you’ve been guilty of sitting at home thinking how easy a penalty kick looks, then why not take on The Samsung Mobile Spot Kick Challenge and show Neville just what you’re made of…  if you think you can handle the pressure!

State of the art technology will track who has the best penalty kick by measuring where the ball is placed and how hard it has been struck. Entry is free and all goal attempts will be automatically uploaded to the Samsung Mobile Spot Kick Challenge leader board at:- samsungmobile.co.uk/spotkick

You could also be in with a chance of winning some amazing prizes…  England’s best penalty taker will win a top of the range Samsung Home Entertainment System, perfect for watching this summer’s big matches, while five runners up will win a stylish new Samsung mobile phone.

If you can handle the pressure, put the ball on the spot!

 TONIGHT’S THE NIGHT, Live at the Liverpool Empire!

THE Rod Stewart musical at the Liverpool Empire is direct to you from the West-End. Ben Elton smash-hit musical based on the songs of Rod Stewart, arrives for one week only and must not be missed!

The show is on stage from the 19 June to 24 June 2006. Tickets can be got from the box office at the costs of £8.50 to £27.50.

Make school make sense

AUTISM is complex, our demands are simple.  The National Autistic Society launches its first education campaign

This week, The National Autistic Society (NAS), the UK’s leading charity for people with autism, their parents and carers, will launch its first ever education campaign, make school make sense. This will be followed by a Parliamentary reception on 24 May 2006 at the House of Commons.

Education is one of the most important issues facing children with autism and their parents. An estimated 3200 children between the ages of 0 to 19 have autism in Merseyside. The NAS Advocacy for Education Service takes around 1800 calls a year from families about their problems with education. New NAS research, informed by the largest autism and education survey ever undertaken in the UK, reveals that:-

· Over 40% of children with autism have been bullied at school

· Over 50% of children with autism are not in the kind of school their parents believe would best support them

· 66% of parents said their choice of school was limited by a lack of appropriate placements for children with autism in their local area

· Of the families of children with autism who appealed to the Special Education Needs Disability Tribunal (SENDIST), 79% won their case. Previous research has shown that there are more appeals to the SENDIST about schooling for children with autism than for children with any other type of special education need. One in five parents of children with autism have had to appeal due to a lack of adequate provision for their child

In addition to these figures, reports show that:-

· 1 in 110 children have autism but there is currently no requirement for trainee or practising teachers to undertake any training in autism and over 70% of schools are not satisfied with the level of their teachers’ training. (NAS: Autism in Schools: Crisis or Challenge? 2002)

· Over 25% of children with autism have been excluded from school, usually due to a lack of understanding and awareness on the part of the school (Office of National Statistics, 2005)

A full breakdown of the NAS autism and education research can be found in the NAS policy report, make school make sense, which has been launched this week.

The NAS make school make sense campaign aims to exert pressure on Government and local authorities, and work with them to deliver improvements to education for children with autism. It seeks to engage, support and empower individuals to lobby for change. The campaign demands:

The right school for every child:-

Every child with autism should have local access to a diverse range of mainstream and specialist educational provision including autism specific resource bases attached to mainstream schools, specialist schools and specialist outreach support.

The right training for every teacher:-

1 in 110 children have autism so all teachers should expect to teach a child with the disability and must receive appropriate training in order that they can best support their needs.

The right approach in every school:-

All schools should be autism friendly schools, which promote and provide a positive environment for children with autism now and in the future.

Sam Hilton, parent of 3 children with autism says:- “Getting the right education for my children is the single hardest thing I have ever experienced. I have even had to help set up a school myself in order to get the right support, and at first was told that my son couldn’t go there. It took going through an education tribunal to achieve the support that he needs. I’m now anticipating the same battle with my younger son Charlie - it's never ending! Through this ongoing experience I have found strength, determination and resilience I never knew I had. Children are our future and every child has the right to be educated and to develop to their full potential. What does the future hold if we don’t help them now?”

Mike Collins, Head of Education, The National Autistic Society says:- "Autism is a complex disability that is widely misunderstood. Too often, children and young people with autism are placed in inappropriate schools, with teaching staff who don't have relevant training in the disability and in an environment that doesn't meet their needs. The NAS make school make sense campaign highlights these challenges and is calling on Government, at a national and local level, to ensure that the education system works for children and young people with autism. Meeting the needs of pupils with autism benefits every school because good practice for children with the disability is good practice for other students as well. The NAS is asking people to get involved in the campaign and lobby their MPs and local authorities to demand that children with autism get the education that is their right."

The NAS wishes to recognise and celebrate those who have supported people with autism to achieve their potential at school. make school make sense heroes can be suggested by parents or children, who feel that their hero has made a real difference to their experiences at school or college. A make school make sense hero could be a teacher, a learning support assistant, SENCO (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator), caterer or other staff member.

To nominate your make school make sense hero, visit autism.org.uk/campaign.

There are many ways to get involved in the NAS make school make sense campaign, including sending an email to Secretary of State for Education, Alan Johnson, MP to persuade him of the need for change and sending a make school make sense campaign postcard to your local authority to find out what they are doing to ensure children with autism get the education they deserve in your area.

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