My role


Moving the goalposts

Max Biddulph, Lecturer at Nottingham University, and Simon Blake, Director of the Sex Education Forum, share the fruits of their experience on how to tackle the sexual health of young men and boys, an area in which they have written a training maual to help support healthcare professionals


Over recent years, owing to the pioneering work of a number of organisations, and an increasing body of research evidence, awareness of the need to pay attention to meeting the sexual health needs of boys, young men and men has increased. 


As a country we do not talk easily about sex, sexuality and sexual health, and when we do it is normally a bit smutty and a bit dirty.  We have high levels of teenage pregnancy, increasing rates of sexually transmitted infections including HIV infection and thankfully the Government have decided to take action.  The Teenage Pregnancy Strategy and the draft Sexual Health and HIV strategy for England both pay reference to the specific needs of boys, young men and men.


We believe that the most necessary starting point for developing this work is a belief in the ability of boys and young men to engage in the contraceptive and sexual health culture.  Having a positive starting point is central and our own personal experiences of growing up as men and women sometimes militate against it.  The belief that boys will be boys… prevails.  In the words of one colleague: "Boys, young men and honest, open discussion about sex and relationships - it just won't happen!"


Yet our experience shows that boys and young men do want to talk, they are interested and they want adults to create safe opportunities for them to get the information and support they need about sex and relationships.  We just have to get it right.


We have worked with boys and young men on sex and relationships issues for a number of years.  From the grass roots work we both developed and delivered training courses to support professionals and it is from this experience that Moving Goalposts has been written.  Working with boys and young men is not rocket science, but professionals do need to reconsider their beliefs and approaches and develop the skills and confidence to give the work a go.


The resource tries to help readers through a step-by-step process.  Readers can dip into the resource as they wish depending on their experience and understanding of the issues involved.  Just as sexual health can be tricky business, so was writing this manual.  We wanted to make sure that it supported people who have less experience of the issues - as well as provide ideas for workers who know this stuff backwards.   


Moving Goalposts provides a summary of research, an overview of the national policy context, advice on developing and reviewing training.  It also offers structured exercises for workers to explore and consider the impact of socialisation on boys and young men's behaviour, reflect and consider how own experiences and values can impact upon the work we do and activities to develop participants skills to get on with the job.


We offer it as a contribution to this important area of work.


(e-mail: Simon Blake here)

Page created on November 15th, 2001

Page updated on December 1st, 2009