Sex-Ed should be compulsory, says report

// 4 December 2005

Sex-ed classes should be compulsary from the age of five, according details of a leaked report published in today’s Observer.

“A joint report from the Government’s independent advisors on sexual health and teenage pregnancy recommends that detailed knowledge about sex should become a routine part of all pupils’ education and points out that adopting such an approach makes young people better able to handle sexual issues. The 42 advisors include senior doctors, experts in sexual behaviour, specialists in bringing up children, nurses, and leading academics in the field.”

If adopted, these recommendations would make Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) a statutory subject – at present, a young person’s exposure to sex-ed depends on what school they go to and whether their parents consent.

“If implemented, primary school children would be taught mainly about emotional issues such as relationships and friendships, with older ones starting to learn about puberty. Only secondary students would discuss sexual activity and its potential pitfalls.

“Gill Frances, the acting chairwoman of the teenage pregnancy advisors, said SRE was vital to help pupils understand complicated sexual issues. ‘Young people are growing up in an increasingly sexualised society, where there are mixed messages about sex. The result is that they end up confused because they don’t understand what sex is all about.'”

And about time to. Proper, age-sensitive lessons about relationships of all types and sex should be compulsory – a young person’s understanding of this vital element of being a human being should not be dependent on the mores of his or her school or parents. And not just to prevent unwanted pregnancies, delay sexual activity or teach kids how to avoid STIs – all of which it would do – but because an open attitude to sex is in itself healthy.

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