By Hilary White

LONDON, July 15, 2009 ( – While the nation’s teen pregnancy and abortion rates continue to rise, Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) is telling teens that “an orgasm a day keeps the doctor away.” Entitled “Pleasure,” a new booklet intended for distribution in public schools has been approved by the government’s top sex-promotion groups, Brook and the Family Planning Association.

The pamphlet, which has been distributed to teachers, parents and youth social workers in the Yorkshire industrial city of Sheffield, says that teens can reduce their risk of heart attack with more sex. It asks, “What about sex twice a week? Health promotion experts advocate five portions of fruit and veg a day and 30 minutes’ physical activity three times a week.”

The pamphlet is intended for teens over the age of 14, the primary target group of government attempts to reduce the pregnancy rate. It says that some experts focus too much on “safe sex” and fail to emphasize sexual enjoyment.

The booklet tells teachers and carers to “promote masturbation to young women and men, such as it can feel really good and pleasurable and [it helps] to explore and find out about your body.”

It goes on: “Ensure discussions take place with young people that cover experimentation in sexual relationships to try to dispel the myth that there is only one way to have ‘proper’ sex (ie penetration).”

Steve Slack, Director of the Centre for HIV & Sexual Health at NHS Sheffield, told media that as long as teens are fully informed about sex and are making their decisions freely as part of a “caring relationship,” they have as much right as an adult to sex.

In 2006, when Sheffield was noted to have one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the country, Slack told media that “a number of initiatives” were planned to reduce underage conceptions. He said he was confident that the city would meet targets set in 1999 by the Blair government to halve its teenage pregnancy rates by 2010.

However, by 2006 the government-sponsored programs that involved more sex education at younger ages, had resulted in the teen pregnancy rate rising to record-breaking levels. This increase was noted at a time when other Yorkshire towns were recording lower pregnancy rates of unmarried girls under 18.

Dr. Trevor Stammers, head of the Christian Medical Fellowship told the Daily mail, “It is unbelievable that this is being sent to schools.”

Speaking for the Christian lobby group Family and Youth Concern, Dr. Stammers said, “I’d like to know what scientific evidence there is to back this up. There are an awful lot of overpaid and under-occupied health promotion officers around who are obsessed with sex.”

Encouraging underage sex, he said, was “nothing less than encouraging child abuse.” “If the NHS wants to promote a healthy heart, as it says it does in this leaflet, it should put the money into reducing smoking and alcohol,” he said.

But Sue Greig, a consultant in public health at NHS Sheffield, dismissed concerns that the pamphlet will encourage young people to have sex.

She said in countries where there is more “openness about sex,” like the Netherlands, young people wait longer than British teenagers before “having their first experience.”

Despite such assurances, the insistence of government on encouraging teen sex is starting to be rejected on both sides of the political fence. Last week, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, a self-described “left-of-centre” columnist, wrote in the Daily Mail castigating the Labour government for continuing its “catastrophic” course of more and more explicit sex education for younger children that, she said, has been a “monumental failure.”

The recent decision to introduce sex education in primary schools is “a mark of desperation,” she wrote. It has institutionalized the “sexualisation of young children, incontrovertibly one of the main reasons for the alarming teen pregnancy statistics.”

“British children know enough already about sex; it shouts at them from billboards, whispers to them in magazines and newspapers, entices them on the internet and on TV, and consumes them in modern books for children, too.

“The problem is that this sexual awareness is received and ingested but with no guidance on consequences, nor any cautionary social mores.”

About 40,000 teenagers become pregnant every year in the UK, the highest level in Western Europe. Recently released statistics show that more than half of British teen pregnancies are ended by abortion.

Read related coverage:

£6 Million Government Reduction Program Resulted in More than Twice as Many Teen Pregnancies

UK Sex-Ed Backfire: Survey Reveals Increased Pregnancy Rates in Teens Subjected to Program

UK Announces Mandatory Sex Education for Kindergarteners