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I was cajoled into losing my virginity at too young an age .. I want my girls to be taught that it's right to say 'no' DAVINA McCALL EXCLUSIVE.


INSTEAD of waiting until she felt ready, Davina McCall caved in to pressure and had sex way too early.

Rather than it being a special moment, she threw her virginity away. And she bitterly regrets it.

"I lost my virginity at too young an age," admits Davina, speaking exclusively to the Mirror. "I won't say how young in case my granny is reading this!

"I got cajoled into it - as many young girls do.

"If I'd had the sort of education that is on offer now I probably would have had the strength to say no.

"I vaguely remember having one sex education lesson once, which didn't even attempt to put it in the context of a loving relationship.

"This came at an age where we'd been reading Harold Robbins books under the duvet with a torch, so we'd already picked up the wrong end of the stick anyway."

No wonder she feels so strongly about the compulsory introduction of Personal and Social Health Education (PSHE) in schools.

She even argues the case in Friday's Channel 4 show, Let's Talk Sex, hoping it will spark a national debate.

Davina, who is married to outward-bound instructor Matthew Robertson, wants PSHE in place to help their children - Holly, five, Tilly, three, and seven-month-old Chester - deal with any pressure to lose their virginity when they are adolescents.

"I am keen for my girls to learn that it is something very special and that you can only give it once within the context of a loving relationship," says Davina, 39, who is famous as the host of Big Brother. "That should be as late as possible because emotionally you then have the tools to deal with it."

PSHE, which is taught in some schools to children over five, is all about emotions. It aims to promote kindness, respect, responsibility and morality. It is only as pupils near secondary school age that sex education is introduced.

DAVINA says: "It has been proven that children with low self-esteem are more likely to have early sexual experiences than those who believe in themselves.

"PSHE is brilliant because it teaches the child just that. Government guidelines are very age specific about the subject and that is absolutely right. I would not want my five-year-old daughter being taught about sex.

"Of course I don't want that! When I see a headline saying, 'Davina: Let's Teach Four-year-olds About Sex', it makes my blood boil.

"At first I was very anti what I saw as the early sexualisation of children. I thought that not telling them about sex would stop them trying it.

"But what I learned from doing this programme and talking to the experts - as well as to pupils and teachers at schools both here and in Holland - was the opposite.

"We need to give our children the type of education that will help them make the right choices and stop them becoming another teen pregnancy statistic."

The UK has the highest rate of teenage pregnancies in Western Europe, with recent figures showing a sharp rise in girls under 16 getting pregnant. Worryingly, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are also increasing.

"The statistics prove that what we are doing is not working," she says. "We need the government to make PSHE compulsory in all schools - their own website states: 'Effective sex and relationship education does not encourage early sexual experimentation.' "Don't get me wrong, I'm not dismissing any religious beliefs, but surely everyone has to concede that their children are likely to procreate at some time?

"PSHE can set the foundations to encourage our children to be good, moral citizens. There is nothing stopping parents from saying their faith expects their kids to wait till they are married."

While making Let's Talk Sex, Davina visited a school in Bristol where all the pupils are mothers or mums-to-be.

"It was a wonderful place, full of hope," she says. "All of the girls had got pregnant at a young age, but still wanted to continue their education.

"All of them had been through some sort of experience just before getting pregnant and had little self-esteem. And while they loved their babies dearly, not one of them said she was happy that she'd become a mum so young."

But it's not all down to what is taught in the classroom. Davina, who lives with her family in Woldingham, Surrey, believes that parents must open up at home, too.

"That has to be the starting point," she says. "If a child can talk to their parents about any subject then that's a good thing.

"I spent a lot of my childhood trying to rebel and that wasn't healthy. So I want to be as open with my own children as I can.

MY own experiences with drugs means I feel equipped to talk to them about it when they are old enough to understand.

"I hope that my using drugs when I was young means my kids won't have to. But I can't do anything except be there for them if they need me."

While she applauds those schools that are voluntarily teaching PSHE - including the one Holly and Tilly attend - the current system is something of a lottery.

"We need specially trained teachers who can talk about the emotional side of things and then sex education in a matter-of-fact way," insists Davina.

"While this isn't on the National Curriculum it means any teacher can deal with it - and a sports teacher trying to talk about sex or relationships is not conducive to a giggle-free class."

What she learned from making the show has already come in handy.

"When I was pregnant with Chester, Holly asked how the baby had got into my tummy," she recalls.

"I took a deep breath and told her daddy had planted a seed in mummy's tummy. She didn't ask any more - like how it had been planted or where the seed had come from.

"It taught me that I must always answer their questions honestly and in a language they will understand. Most children are happy with an answer like that and won't delve any deeper."

Despite the campaigning element to Let's Talk Sex, Davina has no wish to be seen as the Jamie Oliver of sex education.

"Oh, please," she laughs. "I'd like to be the Jamie Oliver of something less garish.

"I don't profess to know everything about this. I have learned so much and I'm learning all the time because I have opened my eyes to the issues.

"It would be easy for the government to do this - they have the guidelines in place. I just hope I can get people talking about it. "But if they start asking me for sex tips, I'll be stuck!"


KEEPING MUM: Carrying son Chester; WEDDING BELLE: With Matthew; Lessons in loving Davina is worried that teenage pregnancy rates are on the rise Photo: GRANT SAINSBURY/IDOLS
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 21, 2007
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