The teen sex manual causing a stir

The teen sex manual is being labelled too graphic for teens.
The teen sex manual is being labelled too graphic for teens. Photo: cover image

newly released sex manual aimed at teens and being compared to the Joy of Sex is causing much controversy in the UK. The book, entitled Sex & Lovers; A practical guide, has been branded as too explicit and graphic for teenagers to handle, with many questioning whether it is really necessary or not. 

However the author, neuro-psychologist, Ann-Marlene Henning, is adamant that the book is all about providing young people with facts, information and advice that they are unable to find anywhere else, and denies that it is to be used as a guide of any other sort. 

In an interview with the London Telegraph, Henning stated that she had no idea that the book would cause so much controversy and that her aim had only ever been to write something that would help to demystify sex for teenagers.

'Sex & Lovers: A practical guide' by Ann-Marlene Henning  & Tina  Bremer-Olszewski
'Sex & Lovers: A practical guide' by Ann-Marlene Henning & Tina Bremer-Olszewski Photo: cover image

"Most teenagers think about sex all the time and their parents do not know how to tackle the subject," she told the Telegraph. "They feel embarrassed to discuss it. What they don't know is that a third of UK teenagers have had sex by the age of 15 and their parents know nothing about it."

Yet, rather than being applauded for her work, Henning is being slated, and it appears that one of the biggest issues that people have is with the photography of teen couples throughout the book

Despite this backlash, Henning stands by her decision to use this type of photography. 

"I wanted to write an honest book that everyone can read and then I realised that if that was my starting point, I couldn't then use drawings to illustrate it. If my message is one of love and care and feelings, then I wanted to show real-life people in real-life relationships."

So what do parents of teenagers here think?

Carolyn Palliardi is a mother to a 16-year-old boy and a 12-year-old daughter and wholeheartedly supports this book. "I will go online to order this book for my son who is sexually active," she says. "In my experience, teenagers do read books and I believe that something like this would be a great reference for them to access different information as and when they need it."


It is Palliardi's view that there is a real need for honest and loving information about sex to be made available for teens, particularly as she thinks there are so many examples out there of disconnected sex. "If this book can teach both sexes to respect their bodies and have more intimate and loving experiences, sex then would not seem quite as scary to them."

Jenny Ackland of Sex Education Australia believes that accessing relevant and reliable information about developing sexuality is important for teenagers.

"At the primary level, quality sex education has been shown to help increase children's confidence and self esteem, aid them in making healthier decisions as they get older, and help increase their personal safety," she says.

At a secondary level, Ackland explains that quality sex education has been shown to have additional benefits such as, reducing STI's, reducing instances of unplanned pregnancies, and reducing instances of sexual assault, to name a few.

"As far as the book is concerned, we can't provide comment as we haven't seen it," says Ackland.  "But we do believe that books can be a good resource for young people to access information and, as long as age appropriate, a much better alternative to the likes of the internet.  Google is the last place you want a young person to go to search for information on 'sex', as some of the sexually explicit material available online can be problematic when young people's developing sexualities are considered."