Safe at School calls on parents to resist compulsory “big brother” plans to sexualise children.
17 January 2017
Statutory sex education would deprive parents of the possibility of protecting their children by withdrawing them from SRE lessons. Image: istock
SPUC Safe at School is launching a nationwide appeal to parents following an attempt in Parliament last week to make sex education a compulsory subject in the nation's schools.
Safe at School is calling on parents, grandparents and others write to their MP asking him/her to oppose any proposals to make sex education a compulsory school subject. Briefing notes are available.
Scroll down to download the briefing!
Not the answer to sexual violence
Advocates claim that making Personal, Health and Social Education (PSHE) - which includes sex and relationships education (SRE) - compulsory will reduce the use of pornography, sexting and sexual violence among pupils.
However, Antonia Tully, campaign director and a mum of two school-age children, says that this is not the answer. "Recent history is littered with failures of such interventions in trying to change the sexual behaviour of young people."
Does school sex education work?
Mrs Tully explains: "Until recently the drive to introduce compulsory SRE has focused on reducing teenage pregnancies. Studies point to sex education achieving little or no impact in this area, despite the decline in teenage pregnancies."
"School sex education does not always deliver the results people expected.
"Indeed, a 2015 study showed that in England the fall in teenage pregnancy seems to have more to do with young people staying in school and getting better exam results, than sex education."
Mrs Tully said increasing access to contraception has long been viewed as central to reducing teenage pregnancies but added:
"A 2016 study found such schemes can actually increase teenage births and STIs. The study also found that gonorrhoea rates for women increased following condom schemes."
"This failure to protect young people in school from STIs and abortions should inform current proposals to make PSHE statutory."
Not about ignorance
Mrs Tully said that the parents who contact Safe at School do not want to keep their children ignorant of sex and relationships but they are shocked at the way in which schools present the subjects to their children. She explained:
"School resources featuring animated presentations of sexual intercourse, ejaculation and masturbation from the Channel 4 'Living and Growing' scheme are still shown in schools.
"These cartoons have been incorporated into other programmes, such as the Christopher Winter Project. This resource distresses parents because, among other reasons, it presents sexual intercourse as a fun activity which makes you happy. There is surely a concern that telling children sex is pleasurable might be making a child more susceptible to sexual predators."
Big brother sidestepping parents
Mrs Tully said parents would be sidelined and undermined by compulsory sex classes for their children by transferring this critical aspect of their child's education to the state.
"This is an Orwellian 'Big Brother' nightmare writ large.
"Where the state takes over teaching children about sex and sexual behaviour, parents receive a message that this part of their child's upbringing is not their responsibility. Children will inevitably suffer as a consequence. Keeping PSHE, and in particular SRE, as a non-compulsory subject, is a vital acknowledgement by the state that parents have a particular role in the sexual education of their children."
"The Safe at School campaign asserts that the best place for young children to learn about sexual matters is from their parents, within the family setting. A majority of parents feel able to do this.
"They can give their primary aged children a sense of privacy and restraint about sexual matters."
By contrast, groups such as sexual health charity Brook are promoting the view that any sexual activity is acceptable - even for those below the legal age of consent."
Making children vulnerable to sexual exploitation
"Safe at School condemns this approach to under-age sex because it risks making children and teenagers vulnerable to sexual exploitation while parents are left feeling powerless to guide and protect their children as schools promote the idea that there are no boundaries to sexual activity," concluded Mrs Tully.
"Far from safeguarding children and teenagers, this approach sexualises them and makes them vulnerable. Statutory sex education would deprive parents of the possibility of protecting their children by withdrawing them from SRE lessons.
"We want a national programme aimed at supporting parents to take the lead in teaching their children about sex and relationships, in line with their own values and aspirations for their children. Parents are the best people to teach their young children about sexual matters and to guide their teenage children in navigating the challenges of pornography, sexting and sexual violence.
"We are calling on all parents to write to their MPs demanding that they oppose any plans for compulsory sex education in our schools.”
Download the briefing!