I watched Dispatches (about the new immunisation against cervical cancer) on Monday night. Various arguments were given both for and against the immunisation, but the one thing that horrified me was the group of mothers stating that they did not feel that they wanted their daughters to have the jab because they did not want to have a conversation about sex with a twelve year old. My God, no wonder six percent of teenagers in this country get pregnant every year.
Now, don’t get me wrong; I have two daughters and I would like them to hold on to their innocence as long as possible. But I don’t think that talking openly about sex and loving relationships is likely to deprive them of their childhood in some way. Having had an embarrassingly rubbish sex education at school, I don’t feel wildly confident about it, but I try my best to answer six year old Milly’s questions when they come up. The last time was in the supermarket – in a very LOUD voice she asked, “Mummy, is that apple bigger or smaller than a sperm?”
From my perspective, I blunder through things as best I can and pray that sex education nowadays is manifestly better than it was thirty years ago. So I just can’t understand these people who complain about sex education being ‘too explicit’. As far as I am concerned, the more that teachers take off my hands, the better and, in the mean time, I will try to be as open and unembarrassed as possible.
I would like to see a much more open attitude towards sex in schools – much more along the lines of that in Holland (where only one percent of teenagers get pregnant). I certainly wouldn’t complain if Milly and her peers were to be taught about sex and how babies are made (yes, and how big a sperm is in relation to an apple). Far better that she learns from her parents and teachers than from teenage magazines and other teenagers who have already ‘done it’. I don’t believe it would make her more likely to become sexually active in her teens. On the contrary, I think it would equip her with the skills to deal with sexual issues.