Britain's schools watchdog Ofsted, has revealed that smoking and binge drinking among teenage girls have scaled worrying heights all because parents and teachers make the health risks seem less important than those of illegal drugs and unsafe sex.
Accordingly, young people correctly see cigarettes and alcohol as a far greater threat and the school curriculum must change to reflect that, Ofsted opined. Pupils also felt let down by adults who were reluctant to talk about sensitive issues such as sex and relationships and turned to magazines for advice.
Ofsted also found that some secondary schools still allow homophobic or sexist attitudes among pupils to go unchallenged.
The inspectors entreated for the wider provision of emergency contraception and contraceptive advice for underage pupils, saying school nurses were providing a "valuable service". School nurses provide emergency contraception such as morning-after pills as well as contraceptive devices to students.
The Ofsted report on personal, social and health education, which was based on 350 school inspections over five years also said: "Many adults are concerned about young people's involvement with illegal drugs, but the overwhelming majority of young people identify correctly that tobacco and alcohol are the greatest drug-related dangers."
Girls were more affected than boys by others who smoked at home, according to the report. It also showed that 25 percent of 14- to 15-year-old girls had smoked in the week before they were surveyed, a proportion barely changed in 20 years.
On issues such as sex, the inspectors said youth magazines helped "redress the balance of advice", but rejected the idea that "abstinence only" sex education in schools would reduce teenage pregnancy or improve sexual health. There was no evidence to support claims that teaching about contraception increased sexual activity, it said.
This is in contrast to traditionalist organizations such as Family and Youth Concern that teaches young people that the only acceptable time to have sex is once they are married.
According to Norman Wells, director of Family and Youth Concern, 23 research studies from 10 countries have showed that giving girls the morning-after pill failed to reduce 'unintended' pregnancy and abortion rates.
Wells says: "Ofsted has swallowed the lie being peddled by the sex education and contraceptive industry that using contraception is the mark of sexual responsibility.
"Sadly, many young people have found to their cost that using a condom does not guarantee protection against sexually transmitted infections. True sexual responsibility is a matter of saving sex for marriage - and keeping it there once married."