Children as young as four who are just learning “please” and “thank you” will in future receive sex and relationship education at the same time.
Is this the death knell to modesty and sweetness? An end to the carefree inhibitions of early childhood? Or something we have to face.
Support for this measure has been because phones and access to the internet puts even the youngest pupils at risk of online abuse.
Recognised as the biggest overhaul to sex education in 17 years, this initiative and will be actioned by the Government under an amendment to the Children and Social Work Bill. Currently, only council-controlled secondary schools are required to teach children about sex in biology classes. There is no such requirement on academies or free schools which make up the majority of secondaries in England
However, while these lessons will raise awareness of body parts and sexuality earlier, they run other risks. Extra stress may be imposed on girls and boys who are “late developers” or those brought within more traditional family cultures.
Talking about sex in a tasteful manner is an art form many best-selling novelists seek to master. So let’s hope the Government and teachers can do it properly.
Crudity is not cool. Nor is it free from danger. Incidents of school bullying have increased in proportion with our upfront, immodest society. AAB knows often children are traumatised by being coerced into early sexual language and experience by their peer group. This move will not help with that. I can only hope that the new sex curriculum takes this into account and not overlook the part empathy and good manners plays in children’s education.
Also, teenagers are to be taught about how to protect themselves from “sexting” and porn. As a charity we are preparing resources to compliment this sector and have been campaigning in support of this action.
The new legislative proposals are to make SRE in primary and secondary schools compulsory. AAB believes parents will be able to opt their children out of these lessons. Of course the singling out of the child “taken out of class” may result in them being isolated from their peers. More group pressure!
With the average age of owning a first mobile phone in the UK set now at nine, it is necessary to update social and relationship knowledge.
Over the past ten years ministers and charities like Act Against Bullying have faced mounting calls for more teaching on the pitfalls of the internet. Their overall desire has been protection and to reduce cyberbullying by any means.
Let’s hope then this new turn by the Government does just that, and not the opposite.
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