Now the Prime Minister’s on board, let’s make better sex education a reality
A new dialogue on sex education has started with the Government at the very highest level. On Saturday, the Prime Minister backed the Telegraph Wonder Campaign for better sex education and said schoolchildren should be taught about the “dangers” of online porn, adding sex and relationship lessons should “reflect the problems of the internet”. It is the first time he has said the Government needs to do something in this usually very controversial area.
This is epic on two counts.
His Coalition government had been arguing just days before about how to tackle sex and relationship education (on the same day that Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, said current sex education guidance available to teachers should be updated to reflect the digital era, the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, said no, they should not). Now David Cameron has stepped in and said, actually, ‘yes’, we do need to do something.
2. From a parenting point of view
Mr Cameron admitted he is “grappling” with how to talk to his own children about the issue. As Justine Roberts, the founder of the UK’s largest parenting site Mumsnet blogs for us today, many parents find it difficult approaching the topic of sex and relationships with their children. For many parents, the internet didn’t exist when they were growing up – but now, many children and teenagers find out all sorts of things from the internet that parents cannot control, and parents need help helping their children navigate and interpret this.
Sure, the UK can put in place online porn filters, as Mr Cameron called for earlier this year, but that doesn’t stop children accessing porn, or other distorted, inaccurate or, quite frankly, ridiculous images and info about sex online in the first place. As a parent, the Prime Minister knows this. He also knows, like so many groups who have backed our campaign for better sex education over the past week (from the NSPCC to the National Union of Teachers to the Girl Guides), that better sex education at school does not come instead of education at home. It does not absolve parents of their responsibilities, nor does it presume that parents shouldn’t have to approach the subject at all. What good quality sex education at school must do is compliment what young people are already learning on the subject from their parents at home, helping them to understand what they are told and what they see online in a way that is relevant and meaningful to them. Parents should be safe in the knowledge that their children are being given the right resources at school to put into context their own questions, thoughts, anxieties and feelings about sexuality, relationships and ‘doing it’.