I couldn't help notice that a report detailing the state of sexually transmitted diseases was published as a "members item" on the Barnet Council website. I was mildly perturbed to see that sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise in Barnet with a 4.3% increase in reported cases in the 2012 over 2011. I was also mildly perturbed to see that the council has decided that it doesn't have to do anything about it. There were 2,857 reported cases in Barnet in the last period, which is low for a London Borough and against the national average. The issue is that cases are on the rise.
Now whilst no one is suggesting that Councils should tell people who they can exchange bodily fluids with, it is pretty clear that the Council does have a responsibility to ensure that its role in ensuring public health is performed to the best of its ability. I have long had concerns that the move towards academies and free schools (especially ones with a religious ethos) may on occasion lead to a misguided view that sexual health is not an educational priority. I am sorry to say that some of the more hard line fundamentalist religious types seem to actually take pleasure in hearing of the rise in STD infection rates, as they see this as punishment for sexual naughtyness. As sexual education does not show up on the league tables and schools don't publish STD infection rates, we can't really tell which schools are doing their job properly.
I take a different view. I believe that schools and councils should make sure that people in there care are as safe as possible. I believe more work should be done and more research into the patterns. I am also concerned that no mention was made of STD rates for vulnerable people in Council care. It is sadly true that sexual abuse of people with learning difficulties by people in positions of trust is more common than we care to admit. Often it is only when an STD is discovered that abuse comes to light.
I therefore think that more work in this area needs to be done and awareness raised. I'd also like to see some guarantees that academies and free schools are taking their responsibilities seriously.
The following text is the information published on the Council Website. I think there is a degree of complacency here. I'd be interested to see what my readers think. I guess we should give a shout out to Councillor Julie Johnson, who yet again shows that she seems to be one of the few Barnet Councillors living in the real world.
(Link to Council website)