It always astounds me the fuss that is caused whenever anything to do with sex education is mentioned in the press. I refer to this morning’s BBC news article “Sex Education for Six-Year-Olds” and, in particular, the comments made by Norman Wells, director of Family and Youth Concern.
Here are a few of them:
1) “It is up to parents and carers to teach sex education to children.”
Well, wouldn’t that be nice? Of course, if parents and carers want to and feel comfortable with it, of course the ideal is for them to teach sex education to children. But not everyone is – and many children don’t have both parents at home half (or any) of the time to be able to talk to them about any concerns or issues.
2) “This is all part of an exercise to break down children’s inhibitions and natural sense of modesty.”
Sorry, what inhibitions and natural sense of modesty are these? The ones that allow children to enjoy running around naked on the beach without being concerned about their bodies? The ones that allow a brother and sister of four and six to share a bath together and to talk about the fact that one has a ‘willy’ and the other a ‘botty’ because that’s one of the differences between boys and girls? Or the ones that big businesses and Hollywood push onto them as they grow up, that tell them that they have to be thin and beautiful?
3) “Most parents would be very concerned if they knew that their children were being given literature at school produced by an organisation that doesn’t put sexual intimacy in a clear moral context and that fails to respect the role of parents.”
Oh, for goodness sake! What sort of world does Mr Wells live in? Of course people respect the role of parents – at least those that are at home because they’re not too busy putting in 60 hour weeks at work to buy the latest gadgets.
Now, I have to confess at this early stage that I haven’t read the magazine, so it may be that it goes into great detail about sex and encourages six year olds to grow up having it with as many people as possible. But I sincerely doubt it. I’m not sure that being able to name your body parts is really going into sexual intimacy in any great detail.
I am firmly in the camp that believes that the more we inform our children, the more we empower them to make appropriate, sensible decisions as they grow up. I would far rather have a six year old daughter who, when wandering through the supermarket asks at the top of her voice; “Mummy, are peas bigger, or smaller than a sperm?” (oh, yes she did!), than live by the Sarah Palin method of keeping kids in the dark until, surprise, surprise, they find themselves pregnant.
And as for a ‘clear moral context’, I think that my kids get that from seeing their parents’ happy marriage and from having clear guidelines and rules for how we treat other people.