Monday, 20 May 2013

Let's talk about sex

Oh dear! The National Association of Headteachers is calling for children as young as five to be taught about porn and we're all getting hot-under-the-collar about sex. Again.

I taught Sex Ed for years - to girls as well as boys - and, it might surprise you to learn, very little of it actually mentioned the word 'sex'. Or talked about 'bits'. Or contained anything about which smutty fourth-formers could giggle or the Daily Mail be outraged.

Because - and I hope this will reassure the many, many parents out there who are (rightly, justifiably, understandably) concerned about what otherwise appears to be rather whacky ideas from the teaching profession - sex education, or Sex and Relationship education as it is correctly called, is only very rarely about biological reproduction and all that that entails.

Indeed, it's the "R' is SRE that is most important. Because good Sex Ed in schools is about teaching children how to recognise, nurture and sustain good relationships of all kinds (platonic none more so for those under the age of 16) to have respect for themselves and other people, not to use anyone as a means to an end but to treat everyone with the respect and dignity they deserve.

Having a good basic sense of self-worth - which can and should be taught to kids as young as five - is central, fundamental and essential to being able to show respect to others. Showing respect to others, once learned, once accepted and once practised and developed in school from the age of five onwards - is far more likely to lead to a healthy attitude to sexual partners (when the times for such arrives) and to the ability to deal with pornography than any explicit lessons on the subject.

And that's what this is all about.

It's depressing to hear so many parents, grandparents and media commentators so muddled about what actually goes on - and what principles underpin - good SRE in schools. And - yes - depressing too that those so-called professional communicators - teachers and headteachers - seem unable to offer the reassurance society needs.

So, here for what it's worth, is my two' pennorth:

  • You can't just 'leave it to parents' as many parents just don't bother. 
  • You have to equip children with age-approproate information about the world about them. And that includes the adult bits. 
  • And if schools aren't about giving children the skills and attitudes necessary to forge and sustain mutually rewarding, long-lasting and appropriate relationships with other members of the human race then they should be closed down forthwith. 

Oh, and one more thing.

If you don't like knowledge, try ignorance.


  1. I agree children need to be taught about sex, but, why do we need to teach them about porn?

  2. The key here is 'age appropriate'...I totally agree that kids need to know all of this stuff and will grudgingly admit that some parents are not able to provide it. However I do NOT agree that my 9 year old daughter should be shown a video depicting 2 adults chasing each other around the bedroom with feathers and then having intercourse in the missionary position followed by woman on top! This video is used across the country in primary school SRE lessons. All with the commentary 'when 2 grown ups like each other, they have feels really nice'. So do I want schools given carte blanche to add porn into the mix? No thanks.

  3. Rebecca Schram22 May 2013 at 01:57

    If what you say is true in the UK, and kids are primarily coached on what a good respectful relationship is first and foremost, then I'm all for it. The ad world certainly presents them with a very different story and we parents/teachers really have to present the facts as they truly are.

  4. That's one of the biggest problems Rebecca - the mixed (and not always very positive) messages picked up from all kinds of media. But that's what schools are for - to help pupils learn right from wrong and good from bad!

  5. Every resource has to be appropriate to the age and developmental stage of the child. One problem, of course, is our western model of factory-style whole-class education and what's appropriate to some children in the same class might not be for others. This is one of the reasons that parents have a legal right to withdraw their children form SRE lessons - but it's a right that needs to be exercised with caution. If I objected to a particular resource (video, say) and thought it inappropriate for one of my children at the time the school were planning to use it I'd withdraw my child from the affected sessions - but never the whole programme.

  6. Because, unfortunately, it's both 'out there' and increasingly - almost unavoidably - accessible to children of almost all ages. They need to know about it almost in the same way as they need to know not to run across a busy road.

  7. I disagree and I don't think you can compare it to knowing how to cross the road. I think you're wrong saying it's accessible to children of almost all ages. We control what our kids watch whether it's on the computer, iPad or TV. It is adult material and it's not something I think they need to learn about.

  8. Rebecca Schram22 May 2013 at 15:28

    Especially if parents cannot be bothered!

  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


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