The rate of increase of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is alarming. This clear, well-referenced book includes factual information on teenage pregnancy, contraception and STIs, alongside thoughtprovoking chapters on important issues for debate. It is useful for clinical practice, service commissioners, youth workers and church ministers, and parents.
The opening chapters allow for reflection on the complexity of the interval between childhood and adulthood. The milestones of adolescence in chapter one are an excellent reminder of normality. The importance of listening to young people so as to develop good communication with them is emphasised. Beckaert also looks at the other kinds of risk-taking behaviour that adolescents engage in.
I was encouraged to read: 'for professionals working with young people in the area of sexual health, child protection considerations are paramount'. This chapter's legal issues are important, especially as professionals and lay individuals may interpret laws and guidelines differently. The Frazer guidelines are laid out clearly, but Beckaert has not made clear the amount of time required to assess a young person's competence and understanding. Furthermore, there is insufficient discussion about confidentiality and children under 13 years of age. There is a detailed section on the age of consent debate but I question the accuracy of conclusions drawn from a Channel 4 programme and a teenagers'magazine.
Sex and relationships education and abstinence campaigns are discussed. Unfortunately, the importance of empowering young people by teaching techniques to resist pressure is not highlighted as an area that requires equality with providing information on contraception and STIs.
The cover of marginalised groups is excellent and wide ranging, covering looked-afterchildren and child prostitutes. The marginalisation of boys (who have not been equal partners with girls in the sexual health debate) is acknowledged. Specific projects are discussed, such as the use of role models in schools for African-Caribbean boys and also using peer educators working alongside disabled people. Sexual health outreach in youth settings is also dealt with well and demonstrates the importance of involving parents in this matter.
Churched young people are subject to the same worldly pressures as all their peers. Although it isn't written from a Christian perspective, this book will help to make parents, professionals and church communities more aware of these issues.