The South Yorkshire chapter of the National Health Service in England recently put out a pamphlet titled Pleasure that attempts to shift the sex education dialogue to one that acknowledges the positive aspects of the sexual experience. The booklet, among other things, has a section that talks about the physical and emotional benefits of masturbation. This section has caused a great deal of controversy in the press, but, as one of the writers, Steve Slack, told the Daily Telegraph, "Far from promoting teenage sex, it is designed to encourage young people to delay losing their virginity until they are sure they will enjoy the experience.'
It's a laudable goal. Encouraging teenagers to talk about sex in a way that enables them to make smart and positive decisions instead of simply acting on fear is always a good idea. Removing the guilt associated with masturbation and providing a healthy, safe outlet for sexual energy can only encourage teens to make healthier choices later in their life. After all, it's not like teenagers aren't going to decide to have sex just because an adult has told them that sex can be fun. The odds are, that's something they already know.