Britain has the highest number of teen pregnancies in Western Europe and Battlefront campaigner, Shereece, blames the way we’re taught about sex at school. FV1’s Joanna Cockerill met her to find out more
Let’s Talk About Sex. That’s what Shereece, 18, from East London, is encouraging people to do. It’s also what she called her campaign on Battlefront last year, a programme that gets young people to try and change things on a big scale. Meeting her at a café for the interview, it’s obvious that despite her rising fame, she’s still very down to earth and eager to share her knowledge on the subject.
Shereece’s campaign is all about changing sex education in schools forever. She wants to train young people into becoming qualified ‘sex educators’ who could go into schools and teach sex education as part of the national curriculum. When asked about her own experience with sex education in school, she laughs and says, ‘Oh, it was so bad. My teacher just sort of felt the class was laughing and then laughed along. And because he didn’t take it seriously, none of us did – we just thought, “Let’s blow up the condoms!”’ And that’s exactly what she wants to change; ‘I think it’s definitely vital that we have people from outside in school, just so you have more privacy,’ she explains.
But don’t we do that anyway? Everyone talks about sex secretly. And isn’t that what sex education would teach us in any case? Shereece immediately disagrees. ‘Don’t get your advice from your friends,’ she says. ‘A lot of information that young people give other young people – unless they’re trained like I am – can be a bit misleading.’
Her motivation for the campaign came from close to home, through three siblings who were teenage parents by the time they were 17. ‘It was a massive strain. A lot of relationships in the family were sometimes a bit crossed,’ she admits. ‘But we’re lucky because we’re quite a loving family. We’re pretty close.’
But things changed drastically for her siblings. ‘I think people underestimate the struggles of being a teenage parent,’ she continues, explaining that her sister can no longer continue with her career. ‘A lot of teenage pregnancies are accidents or rush decisions, so I want young people to have the right to get the information they need.’
I asked her what she would tell other young people trying to campaign and get their voice heard. ‘You definitely have to want to change something,’ she advises. ‘Campaigning takes a lot of dedication and hard work.’ It’s not giving up, however, that really makes a difference. ‘Don’t be afraid to just bug people,’ she adds. ‘Just keep pushing the message across and you’ll get people to listen if you’re doing it for a really good cause.’
Photo: Ibrahim Zaman