Compulsory Sex Education in Schools
Mp`s vote against Compulsory Sex Education in Schools
As the Law in Great Britain currently stands all state schools are required to cover the basics of sex education from a biological aspect. This somewhat vague ruling means that state schools have to cover the `biological` aspects of sex education, while omitting the emotional side, or discussing other aspects, such as LGBT issues. Academies and free schools are permitted to opt out of teaching the subject entirely.
Last year a cross party group of called for sex education to become more comprehensive - specifically for it to include sex and relationships education (SRE), along with personal social and health education, (PSHE). The MP`s called for sex education to me mandatory in all schools, including academies and free schools, along with the subject focusing more intensely on the emotional side, and asking for SRE to be renamed RSE, a subtle alteration perhaps, but one that puts the relationship aspect first.
The select committee pushing for this change said that SRE would be beneficial for all children, but was vital for vulnerable groups, such as LGBT children, along with those in care, and children with disabilities.
Last week MP`s voted against the bill to to make sex education mandatory in all schools, effectively blocking the widespread teaching of SRE in schools. Within days of this ruling hundreds of people signed a Bernardo`s campaign supporting the introduction of SRE. According to the charity seven out of ten children believe the government should make sex and relationship lessons a mandatory part of the curriculum.
Specifically a poll undertaken by Bernardo`s has revealed that `Three quarters (74%) believe all children would be safer if they had age-appropriate classes on the subject.`
The voters rejecting the bill consisted of ten conservative MPs, and five Labour MPs. Simon Hoare, the Conservative MP for North Dorset said that `Some form of protection is needed for those who run faith schools, all faiths,` and that `I have little or no doubt that I will receive emails from constituents who happen to read my remarks. They will say that this is all about promotion, and this or that religion thinks that homosexuality-or another element-is not right.`
Mr Hoare went on to say that he actually supported the intentions of the clause, but voiced his concern that it was framed `solely in the name of Labour Members of Parliament who all happen to be women.`
Labour MP Stella Creasy led the amendment, and it was to her that Mr Hoare explained his reasons for opposing the bill were not simply down to religious sentiment: `We are actively looking at how best to address both the quality of delivery and accessibility to ensure that all children can be supported to develop positive, healthy relationships and to thrive in modern Britain today.`
There is no doubt today`s children are growing up in a vastly different world to those of their teachers. The obvious communication and educational benefits of the internet are mitigated by its dark side, where videos depicting all the extremes of sex and violence are little more than a click away. A recent bristol study has found that almost half of 13 to 17 year old girls have received explicit videos and pictures, with two out of five admitting to reciprocating in kind.
The head strategist of the NSPCC, Jon Brown, has said: `Children aged 10 to 13 are now the biggest risk group because they are being given more sophisticated phones, without the maturity to handle sexting requests or knowing where a request is coming from.`
Sexting has become the `norm` in teenage courtship - and with the overabundance of graphic, and often violent pornography available to anyone wth a smartphone, children may be in in danger of developing a skewed understanding of what is acceptable and normal in a relationship. Teen pregnancy and STD rates in the UK are amongst the highest in Europe. The proposed RSE (relationships and sex education) was largely aimed to combat this, to teach children what is acceptable and unacceptable in relationships.
Many parents have concerns that if sex education is taught in schools children will lose some of the innocence of childhood - that primary school is entirely too early to raise such adult topics, however infantilised and devoid of graphical details the lessons my be. The fact remains though that children have an insatiable curiosity, and if their questions are not answered by a teacher adhering to a suitable curriculum in a classroom, they may receive their first lessons from a more unsuitable, uncensored medium.