Teenage magazines are taking the place of parents in teaching children
the facts of life, an official
Education watchdog Ofsted (Office for Standard in Education) said today
problem pages in publications such as Cosmo Girl and Sugar - and 'lads'
mags' including Nuts and Zoo - are a "very positive source of advice and
reassurance for many young people".
Ofsted said magazines were filling the gap for teenagers because too
many parents - especially mothers of adolescent girls - were failing to
give children the advice they need about sex and relationships.
The watchdog's education director Miriam Rosen said: "No matter how
difficult it may be, parents and teachers have to discuss sensitive issues
with their children and pupils to help them make the right choices as they
The controversial endorsement of teenage magazines came in a new Ofsted
report looking at the way schools teach children about sex, drugs and
So-called "personal, social and health education" was still patchy in
many primary and secondary schools, Ofsted said in a review of inspection
reports from 2001 to 2006.
Polls of pupils by the Schools Health Education Unit for Ofsted showed:
"Parents were generally less likely than previously to be seen as the main
source of advice; the decline has been particularly marked for Year 8
Parents were too shy to tackle embarrassing issues such as sex
Ofsted continued: "As well as failing to provide the information
themselves, some parents express concern about the suitability of
information young people receive from other sources.
"Nevertheless, the 'problem pages' in magazines remain a very positive
source of advice and reassurance for many young people, but difficulties
may arise if the messages clash with parental and cultural norms."
Ofsted urged schools to provide embarrassed parents with material to
help explain the facts of life to their children. But it also warned that
in most primary school sex education lessons pupils knowledge and
understanding of factual aspects were no
better than adequate".