In another startling display of his total disconnect from reality, David Cameron recently decided not to make sex education mandatory for all schools. Despite a number of women within his own cabinet, as well as “four parliamentary select committees, five teaching unions, the Children’s commissioner, the Chief Medical Officer, the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, two royal societies and no less than six medical royal colleges” backing the proposed changes, according to Channel 4’s Cathy Newman, Cameron still decided against them.
It would appear that the UK ranking 4th highest for teenage pregnancies in the EU last year is no indication that perhaps a greater push for decent, compulsory sex education in UK schools is necessary. Nor does it seem to matter that under-25s are consistently the age group most likely to contract an STI in the UK. In fact, Cameron’s decision in this matter seems to defy all common sense. In an age where children are beginning to confront sexual identity and exploration at a younger age, coupled with the fact that sexually explicit content providing an extremely warped view of the realities of sex has never been more accessible, it would seem rather obvious that mandatory sexual education in UK schools is needed now more than ever.
There have been those who have raised concerns about whether it is right to teach younger children about these issues and whether children will be able to handle the material they would have to deal with, but it strikes me that these worries are unfounded and ultimately misguided. Children receiving sex education will obviously be taught content that has been tailored to their particular age group; as mad as this government often seems, I cannot imagine that they would have proposed getting 5-year-olds to put condoms on to bananas, for example. Moreover, providing children with a decent sex education throughout school will ultimately demystify sex and help dispel the fanciful image it has acquired, due largely in part to an unrealistic portrayal in the media, instead grounding it as a perfectly normal and innocuous part of life.
Children today are going to be confronted with sexual imagery and content far sooner and more explicitly than ever before. One need only turn on the television and before long you’ll undoubtedly encounter a perfume advert that will leave you wondering whether you’ve accidentally switched to the adult channels. Why Cameron thinks that sex education doesn’t need to be mandatory in all schools is beyond me. We live in a time where sexual imagery is everywhere; young people are confronted with sexual issues far earlier; sexually explicit content is no more than a couple of button pushes away and young people are often made to feel as though sex is the be-all and end-all, and that they are somehow inferior or inadequate if they haven’t yet had it. No, clearly there is no need for nationwide mandatory sex education.
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