Drink - Shane Watson warns that booze can get you pregnant
If those girls weren't drunk, they were the first to lose their virginity sober
The debate about teen pregnancy has started all over again, thanks to Jemma, Jade and Natasha Williams, who gave birth at the ages of 12, 14 and 16. Cue wringing of hands and nationwide panic. As ever, the politicians' solution is more sex education, earlier. But ignorance wasn't the deciding factor when it came to the Williams sisters - or two of them, at least. Which got me thinking: how about some education on the other causes of pregnancy, such as peer pressure and drink? I have no idea whether the girls were drunk when they decided to have unprotected sex, but if they weren't, they'd be just about the first girls to lose their virginity when sober.
Drink is a multiple health hazard that we choose to gloss over - unless it's in the context of driving. There are adverts aimed at smokers, at users of illegal minicabs who risk being raped, and at people with high cholesterol. Yet the consequences of drink - not just the possibility of flying through a car windscreen, but being incapable of looking after your best interests - are rarely addressed.
Until it happens to you, you have no idea that drink can make you fall over and then not be able to get up. No one told me that if you try to slice a tomato when under the influence, you will cut your finger and it will bleed uncontrollably. No one explained that you are quite likely to lose your keys when plastered, invite dodgy strangers back to your house, bad-mouth people you love, burst into tears for no apparent reason and make statements you bitterly regret. And no one warned me that alcohol makes you get inside bin bags and hurtle down mountains, in the dark, with no thought for what lies at the bottom. All this you discover as you go through life - along with the big lesson, which is that you are a zillion times more likely to have sex if you are under the influence of booze, regardless of the consequences.
I don't know if they have anti-smoking films in schools these days, but we had several, and it seems to me that the time would have been better spent reminding us that alcohol is potentially bad for you in the broadest context. (I can think of no one who has been in a fight, knocked up, dumped or sacked as a result of smoking, but plenty who have experienced one or other after a heavy night on the booze.) I'm not saying it would necessarily change anything, but it would work at least as well as reminding girls that they might get into trouble if they sleep with boys. We know this, but even thirtysomethings continue to make the wrong sexual decisions thanks to the old grape and grain.
How about a poster campaign featuring girls holding up babies with the slogan: "It takes four rum-and-Cokes to get one of these"? That's education, if you ask me.