Around the world, countries are having the debate about whether or not sex education should be left in the home with the parents or if schools should step up and help educate the young about everything from sexual parts to risky sexual behaviors. One country stirring up this controversial debate is a European country known for being quite prudish about sexual topics: England.
According to recent statistics, England is one of the leading countries with teen pregnancies in all of Europe. In fact, in 2006 alone, close to 40,000 teenaged girls between the ages of 15 and 17 were pregnant, while over 7,000 teenage girls under the age of 14 also became pregnant that year. Because of this the English government has decided that sex education should be implemented in the curriculum throughout the British school system, from kindergarten through high school. Jim Knight, the Schools Minister stated, “It’s vital that this information doesn’t come from playground rumor of the mixed messages from the media about sex.” Many wonder if sex education should even be a part of the curriculum of a kindergartener. Knight continues, “We are not talking about 5-year-old kids being taught sex. What we’re talking about for key stage 1 (ages 5-7) is children knowing about themselves, their differences, their friendships and how to manage their feelings.” Thus, these younger children will be learning about parts of the body and getting prepped for feelings they may have when they reach puberty. In short, Knight continues, these children will be learning about self-awareness.
As the child advances through the school system, the sex education lessons will become less generalized and more specific. The curriculum is still being debated by the government but it has been agreed that the schools will be responsible for developing lesson plans that deal with important sexual topics like contraceptive use and relationships. As might be expected, some parents are in an uproar about the government’s decision to introduce these lessons at younger ages. One mother of two young boys, Elizabeth Talbot, states, “I am not the parent who calls her son’s penis a wee-wee. But I should decide if the word penis enters my child’s vocabulary at 5 or not.”
One recommendation by the government is that children who are advancing to secondary school (around the age of 11) should be introduced to the concepts of respect within relationships and sexual behaviors that may be deemed risky because of the possibility of pregnancy and spreading sexually transmitted diseases. Gill Frances who helped develop this new sexual education policy states, “Everybody has sex at some point or other in their lives…(but) we’re not willing to prepare them.” Frances goes on to say that “Statutory (sex ed) is absolutely crucial in reducing teenage pregnancy, particularly for vulnerable young people, but all children and young people need equipping with the skills and knowledge to help manage their lives.” Another supporter of the curriculum, a mom of two children from London, says, “When parents fail to educate their kids properly, the government has every right to step in. Me, I welcome the help.”
Tags: contraceptive, education, pregnancy, Safe Sex, school