Young people want to learn about responsible parenting rather than sexual mechanics in sex education, a recent survey has revealed.
And around three quarters of teenagers interviewed said that a relationship does not need to involve sex.
The findings challenge the current emphasis in sex education on the mechanics of safe sex.
The survey, conducted among over 2,000 13 to 16-year-olds from a range of schools and backgrounds, has surprised experts in the field.
Researchers from Hull University said that they were surprised that the majority of those surveyed supported “moral” ideas about having sex.
The survey revealed that the single most important ‘fact of life’ for both boys and girls was parenting.
Nearly half the girls and almost 40 per cent of boys considered it the single matter they most wished to learn more about.
Dr Julie Jomeen and Dr Clare Whitfield, of Hull University’s Faculty of Health and Social Care, carried out the survey.
Dr Jomeen said the findings were important in light of high teenage pregnancy rates in the UK despite Labour’s Teenage Pregnancy Strategy.
In addition, she said sexually-transmitted infections were on the rise.
The survey, commissioned by East Riding of Yorkshire Council and NHS East Riding of Yorkshire, also questioned young people about their attitudes to sex and relationships.
Almost three quarters of boys and 84 per cent of girls agreed that a relationship doesn’t have to include sex.
Commenting on the findings, Norman Wells of the Family Education Trust, said: “Young people are clearly tiring of the negative messages they are receiving about pregnancy and parenthood from sex educators obsessed with contraception”.
“For too long, Government policy has all too often been encouraging and facilitating casual sex.”
The former Labour Government poured over £300 million into its Teenage Pregnancy Strategy in a bid to halve the teenage pregnancy rate between 1999 and 2010.
But critics warn that increasing sex education and handing out contraception will only serve to give the green light to young people to experiment sexually.