Gogetinfo.com is a new service for teenagers offering information via mobile phones about Abuse, Bullying, How to use a condom, Contraception, Emergency Contraception, Am I normal?, Pressure to have sex, I think I’m pregnant, Self-harm, STIs.
So far so good, young people need easy access to information and many young people have mobile phones now. However this service is not free to the end user. Young people are being charged 50p (plus standard messaging rate) for a download for each topic.
If a young person wanted to know about all of the above topics it would cost them £5 plus the cost of 10 texts. Although some local authorities have paid for bundles of downloads that young people can access for free.
This service for young people has been supported, promoted and tweeted by some of the leading sexual health and youth charities in the UK: some of whom I respect and trust. FPA, Brook, NSPCC, YouthNet and Youthworks Consulting. The Department of Health has also been consulted.
I’ve not downloaded any of these ‘products’ so I have no idea about how good the information is. I have no idea about how much profit the company are making who are providing this service http://www.sensecds.com/ColesMcConnell_SENSE/sensehome.htm I have no idea about how they intend to monitor and evaluate the service and disseminate their findings. All vital questions.
What I do know is that charging young people for sexual health and relationships information is unethical and in my view completely out of order. In my opinion, everyone involved in promoting and supporting this should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. The charities that are supporting this are giving it credibility but they are also putting a price on knowledge.
Young people have a right to accurate high quality sex and relationships information for free. There is of course a cost implication involved in providing this information (although I have chosen to provide sex and relationships information and advice for free and without funding at bishUK.com – currently averaging 1000 – 2000 hits per day), but this should be met from government departments, PCTs, local authorities or through sponsorship from companies.
I would never, ever charge a young person for information and advice that I believe they have a right to.
If you agree with me, follow me on twitter @bishtraining and follow the hashtag #keepsexedfree
Comments below welcome.