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Joy of Teen Sex is a "shocking let-down"

Health and education professionals complain that Channel 4's show prioritises viewing figures over r

Sex researcher and agony aunt Dr. Petra Boynton and Dr. Stuart Flanagan, who features on Radio One's Sunday Sex Surgery, are among the 23 signatories of a letter complaining that Channel 4 and the programme's producers have failed to fulfil their public service remit.

Channel 4 have marketed The Joy of Teen Sex, which concludes this evening and has been on since 19 January, as a show that deals with teenagers' "real" sex and sexual health problems.

However, the letter describes the series as "fitting a pattern of programme development where viewing figures are prioritised over empowerment but where programmes are still marketed as 'educational'".

The group are unhappy that there are not enough qualified professionals on the show, saying that the advice given is inaccurate and misleading.

There has been unease surrounding the show since it was in planning stages.

Justin Hancock, of sex education website BishUK was invited to apply to present the programme and was assured by Betty, the production company that "our aim is to make a thought-provoking and positive series that will look at relationships, emotions and identity as well as 'the act of sex'".

However, Boynton says the show has not delivered on this promise:

"I'm always concerned that primetime shows about young people are exploitative and invite viewers to be critical of young people. Sex and relationships for young people is complex and nuanced and factual entertainment shows only ever really scratch the surface of what is going on for young people."

"It has not represented the main worries young people have, nor talked about core issues of communication, respect or affection," she said. "Given how the public have questions and concerns about sex and the media is a great place to share relationships information, I feel this was a shocking let down to young people and parents. The public deserve better."

Channel 4 have responded with a statement saying they are "proud of our programming in this field" and its "ability to bring large audiences to the often difficult issues they have addressed",

"We have a hugely successful Sexperience website which has been consistently a leader in the field and has seen millions log on for further advice or information after watching the programmes. Anecdotally we also know from healthcare professionals that viewers have sought medical advice and treatment as a result of watching the programme".

Channel 4 have said they "will correspond with the authors of the letter directly about their concerns".