Diagnoses of sexually transmitted infections rose to almost half a million in England last year, with the highest rates in those aged under 25.
According to Public Health England diagnoses of STIs were up 5% from 2011 to 448,422 cases in 2012 and concludes that "too many people are putting themselves at risk through unsafe sex".
People aged under 25 made up 64% of all chlamydia and 54% of genital warts diagnoses in heterosexuals in 2012. New diagnoses of gonorrhoea rose 21%, which is a concern given the growing global threat of antibiotic resistance.
Invest in sex and relationship education
Lucy Emmerson, co-ordinator of the Sex Education Forum, hosted by children’s charity the National Children’s Bureau, hopes the findings encourage the government to invest more in sex and relationship education.
"Good quality sex and relationships education takes place when the subject is given enough time in the timetable, is included in every year of schooling and is taught by trained teachers," she said.
"It is then possible to introduce children to key themes such as consent, gender, body image, relationships and sexual behaviour. It is also vital that schools teach pupils about internet safety. Good SRE promotes core values of respect, non-violence and care for each other and this should extend to any topic, for example a discussion in secondary school about issues to do with pornography or sexting.
"There also needs to be adequate support for parents as many want to take more of a role in talking to their children about growing up, sex and relationships at home."
The Sex Education Forum recently published 'Let's work together; a practical guide for schools to involve parents and carers in sex and relationships education: www.sexeducationforum.org.uk/schools/partnership-with-parents-and-carers.aspx.