This morning at 8.10am I was on BBC Lincolnshire's Breakfast Show talking about road crossing signs in the area which now say "wait for the green figure" rather than "wait for the green man" and whether this is political correctness gone mad. The point is rather moot since the local guy who put the signs up says he was just using the wording that's in the highway code. Amazingly (for a regional station) BBC Lincolnshire's shows are up on iPlayer so you can listen to it here, starting at 2h13m into the show.
Then at 9.45am the most infuriating interview in a long time on BBC Ulster. The statistics we are all supposed to be shocked about are that in the last 3 years about 150 children in Northern Ireland have been diagnosed with an STI. Now unfortunately the woman I was "debating" with was an abstinence-only sex ed teacher and advocate who was straight up determined not to let me get a word in edgeways. But anyway lets look at the numbers first:
150 children with an STI in 3 years. That's 50 per year. Northern Ireland has a population of 1.5m of which around 24% are under 16. So there are 360,000 children living in Northern Ireland. Broad, but conservative, estimates suggest 9.2% of children are sexually abused in Europe (two thirds to three quarters of them female for the record). So that's 33,120 sexually abused children in Northern Ireland. Of whom, in a year, 50 are being diagnosed with an STI, or one in 662. That's very low considering some estimates think as many as 1 in 10 sexually active people in the UK have chlamydia.
Of course it's not good news. If anything it's worrying news because in all likelihood with the prevalence of "unseen" (initially) STIs like chlamydia, syphilis and HIV there are lots more who are not being diagnosed.
But instead of looking at the facts and possibilities for improving diagnosis rates and tackling child abuse, dah-dah! This woman has "decided" the problem is that no-one has told our young people (especially those pesky girls who hang out with older guys) to say "no". Of course it's rather missing the point. No matter how many times a 15-year-old says "yes" to you: you are still not allowed to have sex with them. That's why it's called statutory rape, because it just IS rape, no matter what the other details of the situation.
The problems with abstinence-only sex education are so fundamental it's not true. I mean firstly there is extensive evidence it doesn't work. They did it in the US and the data shows it doesn't reduce the rates of STIs or teen pregnancies and it does delay young people from seeking help when worried about these issues. But it's even less complicated than that. Young people grow into adults. We keep young people ignorant, we end up with ignorant adults. We all make bad choices sometimes but once we become adults we're allowed to make bad choices. I know in my life I've made some GREAT bad choices! Ultimately, armed with accurate information about contraception, safe sex and relationships - sex is a lot of awesome fun. The buggers will work it out eventually if we don't tell them and then they'll never trust us again!
You can listen again as usual though I warn it is a LOT of me shouting over the world's most infuriating woman [or, depending on your perspective, a brilliant abstinence-only sex educator shouting over the world's most infuriating woman]. The link is here and my part starts 45m in to the show.
Finally and for me most enjoyably I was on On.FM this afternoon - it's an independent Hammersmith radio station but releases it's shows as podcasts for download wherever you are. I was on it debating abortion a few weeks ago on a different show. The show I was on today is really about interviewing comedians but the presenters gave me a shout in advance of my scheduled slot because they're fans of the Atheist B!tchslap and asked if I fancied doing the show with a Christian comedienne called Joy Carter (who I've worked with before) so we could have a bit of a debate about religion. Of course I said yes. It's a lot of fun. For a whole hour! Only thing is the podcast's not up yet. Sneak preview though: there's still no god! Here's the link to where it will be though - I'll put it up on Facebook and Twitter tomorrow when it's out.