My mum beckoned me over to her yesterday, uttering “Don’t let Ben read the paper!” (he has been known to) and proceeded to open it to the pages where the Daily Mail depicts the resources that have been given the go ahead to educate my KS1 child about sexual relations.
At six, I thought that the sex education given at school was limited to relationships between people and how we relate to one another, rather than the frankly explicit language and images shown, including describing an orgasm and illustrations of how mummies and daddies fit together (I’ll never look at a space hopper in the same way again!)
He knows the differences between boys and girls and, men and ladies (obviously he has seen both my husband and I disrobed) and we have had some, erm, interesting questions of late – what does “sex/secs” mean? (it was a strange one, I grant you). But we haven’t yet covered the intimacies of how babies are made, and other, erm, more personal pastimes. He is a particularly observant little boy, and much to my dismay he has even asked questions about rape, after hearing someone say the word on the radio, but does a six year old really need to learn about prostitution and oral sex??
I don’t really remember sex education lessons from when I was at school, although I distinctly remember the girls only one, with the Tampax talk – and the colour that a boy from the year below turned when he accidentally walked in! Obviously we did “reproduction” in biology, but I seem to remember focused more on flowers that people.
I understand that children need to know about sex at some point – but like this, at five or six? Isn’t that a time for playing with Lego and putting teeth under the pillow? I thought my biggest worry was how to keep Ben believing in Father Christmas for another few years, not explaining the intricacies of the Kama Sutra. Our children grow up fast enough as it is without making them speed through childhood even quicker.
Obviously there is a need for education – with teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases in the headlines with alarming regularity, there is certainly a need for openess about the causes, but it disturbs me to think that this is how it is being taught, and at such a young age. Will this really help lower either statistic?
I should add that this material is not compulsory (although some councils have recommended it to schools already), and in primary schools (for the time being) sex education content and the way in which it is taught is down to the teacher’s professional judgement, with them ensuring that the lesson is suitable for the children’s age amd maturity.
So, is this too much, too young? How much is right? For me, it definately is. I am all for teaching about relationships, including between men and women, family, friends and so on, but I really don’t feel five year old children need to know the ins and outs (pardon the pun) of sexual relationships.
I would love to hear your views.