Teenagers in Doncaster are being encouraged to list 101 ways to show love without having sex on their prom night.
In a refreshing change from the ‘take a fist-full of condoms’ approach, NHS Doncaster has launched an “It’s Your Prom Night – Get it Right” campaign.
The campaign aims to encourage youngsters, aged between 15 and 17, to discuss ways of expressing their love, and suggestions put forward by pupils have included going for romantic walks on the beach, writing a poem and sending flowers.
The campaign is an attempt to reduce the number of teenage pregnancies in the borough, and posters advertising the scheme have been displayed in schools and youth centres.
Bronwynn Slater, young people’s public health improvement coordinator at Doncaster Primary Care Trust, said: “Prom night can be a very special and emotional occasion for teenagers and they often want to share these moments with their boyfriend or girlfriend.
“But there are lots of different ways that they can show their feelings for each other without having sex.
“Research tells us that many young people regret and don’t enjoy early sex. This delaying approach offers ways of helping them meet emotional needs through means other than sex – for example through supportive friendships, until they feel genuinely ready.
“Delay aims to give them the awareness, skills and self-esteem to make positive choices for themselves.”
The campaign is a marked departure from the approach often adopted by health authorities.
Last week it was revealed that health chiefs in Southampton had created a children’s character, Charlie Condom, to promote condoms to 13-year-olds.
But critics warned that the scheme would simply normalise underage sex.
Ron Clooney, from the teachers union NASUWT, criticised the plans, saying: “This method, where underage impressionable teenagers can get condoms so openly, condones the idea of underage sex.
“Having a giant condom launching this is ridiculous. This needs to be treated as a serious subject. No amount of silly characters with condoms on their heads are going to cure the issue.”
And last month it was revealed that children as young as eight have been offered free condoms by youth workers near a park play area, prompting fury from a local mother.
The condoms were distributed by workers from Cornerhouse, a Hull-based sexual health charity, which is largely funded by public money.
But local mum Samantha Fuller was left fuming when she discovered that her 13-year-old daughter had been given condoms, and that her 8-year-old nephew was also offered them.