Scouts to 'be prepared' with condoms and trips to sexual health clinics

The Scout Association in Britain will in future offer sex advice to their scouts in an attempt to prepare them for life.

The Scout movement, founded by Robert Baden-Powell carries the motto "Be prepared" with the aim of ensuring that boy scouts are equipped to deal with daily life in the community and under new guidelines this will now include sexual health advice, the issue of condoms to prevent unprotected sex and be taken on visits to sexual health clinics.

The visits are suggested for explorer scouts aged 14-18 in order "to break illusions of what these services are and improve the uptake of advice".

The association's chief scout, Peter Duncan, says the reality is that around a third of young people are sexually active before 16 and many more start relationships at 16 and 17 - he believes the scouting movement has a duty to promote safe and responsible relationships and provide sound advice about how to do that.

The scouting movement has about 400,000 young members in Britain, approximately 85% of them boys and involves members of every community, religious and social group in the country.

Mr Duncan says the new sexual health guidance was designed to help young people develop the confidence, maturity and self-esteem to resist peer pressure to be sexually active until they are ready and to make safe and informed decisions.

The intention is that explorer scouts will understand how to use condoms and where to get them - other suggested activities include role play on how to say no and is no longer restricted to teaching boys how to tie knots, sing campfire songs and help old ladies across the road.

Baden-Powell originally advised boys to deal with sexual urges by washing in cold water to cool 'parts' down and he believed that young men should divert such energy into hiking and out-of-door 'manly' activities.

The policy which applies to all age groups within the movement, from six-year-old upwards, has been introduced following requests from leaders for guidance on how to deal with questions about sex.

Factsheets are available which deal with obtaining contraception and pregnancy testing, and what to do if a young person feels they are being coerced into a sexual relationship.

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