VOL: 99, ISSUE: 47, PAGE NO: 32
Kate Lloyd, MA, BA, DipHV, RGN, CertEd, is public health nurse and teenage pregnancy coordinator
Natalie Lyth, MBChB, MMed, is child health associate specialist in paediatrics, Hambleton and Richmondshire Primary Care Trust, North Yorkshire
The UK has the highest rate of teenage pregnancies in western Europe. Every area of the UK is affected, although rates are higher among the most vulnerable groups. Of those teenagers who are sexually active, half use no contraception the first time they have sexual intercourse. Teenagers who do not use contraception have a 90 per cent chance of conceiving and those who do not use condoms are exposed to a range of sexually transmitted infections.
Based on this, the teenage pregnancy campaign aims to reduce the rate of teenage pregnancies and to increase the participation of teenage parents in education, training and employment.
A three-part theatre programme was delivered to 280 Year-Nine students (aged between 13 and 14) at Allertonshire School, Northallerton, North Yorkshire as part of their personal, social and health education.
All of the students were required to complete a questionnaire both before and after the theatre production. The questionnaires consisted of 25 statements that were designed to assess attitudes and 25 statements designed to assess knowledge.
The use of theatre in education was effective in increasing the students’ knowledge and in changing their attitudes to sex and relationships. This mode of education was acceptable to teachers.
This study was an analysis of the use of theatre in sex and relationship education in one school. It did not attempt to identify which of the programme components led to specific changes. The study illustrated that the sex and relationship education programme improved students’ sexual knowledge and changed attitudes towards sex.
This evaluation is a small-scale project. Further work comparing these findings with changes in knowledge and attitudes after a classroom-based programme would be beneficial. It would be useful to repeat the post-programme questionnaire with the same students a year later to see how far changes in attitude and knowledge have been retained.
When further programmes of sex and relationship education are planned it will be important to ensure that they are in line with the National Strategy for Sexual Health and HIV Implementation Action Plan (Department of Health, 2002) and the research findings recommended by the advisory group.
Loud Mouth Theatre Company www.loudmouth.co.uk