A recent report from Public Health England shows that in 2018, 447,694 Sexually Transmitted Infections were diagnosed in England. It represents a 5% increase since 2017. Infections were especially high among young people aged between 15 and 24.
This increase may be explained by the lack of practical and relevant information provided to young people around sexual health. Sexual health remains a taboo and many young people don’t feel comfortable talking about theses issues with adults.
From 2020, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) will be compulsory which should help reduce the number of diagnoses among young people. However, according to a poll run by NSPCC, 28% of teachers say their school is unprepared to teach new RSE lessons and 47.5% lack confidence in their ability to deliver the new curriculum.
In the past, awareness campaigns and RSE did not focus on the issues young people face in their every day life like pornongraphy, risks associated with alcohol and drugs, LGBITQ+ relationahips etc. The new curriculum will help young people discuss these issues but they could easily feel mutual embarrassment when teachers try to encourag these conversations.
Games are a great way to help young people speak openly about sensitive subjects like their sexual health. We have created STI Wars, an educational card game, with Aida De Heras to help them learn how to avoid risky situations, stay safe and avoid STIs:
“Taboos are not helpful - they only contribute to creating and perpetrating unnecessary myths. Obviously sexual health is one of those topics and should be approached at an early age for teenagers to be well equipped and know what their options are, and what they may be exposing themselves to. […] I think that ‘fun’ experiences can be particularly memorable, and games are great at generating those. I decided then that I wanted to make a game which creates an atmosphere where there is no pressure, no judgement and is a safe space to openly explore the subject of STIs.”
STI Wars is a fun card game for young people aged 13 and over, which lets them talk about sexual health, STIs and the risks they might face. Because STI wars is a game it helps create a relaxed atmosphere, where people are more open to honest discussions about sexual activity and sexual health. There’s no pressure, no judgement, and no “wrong answer”. It also removes the tension and embarrassment that can occur when adults try to initiate these discussions with young people.
It's time to eliminate taboos around RSE and make teaching it more enjoyable!