No Sex Please, We're At Primary School

17/04/2011 18:42 | Updated 22 May 2015

children, sex educationI am a child of the 70s, the decade when free love came of age, women burned their bras and sex was no longer a dirty word. As a result my schooling was peppered with various cack handed attempts at sex education.

The most memorable lesson in love I ever had was when my class, then aged around eight, were shown a graphic video of a woman giving birth, howls of agony, crowning baby, dripping placenta and all. The one thing I recall most clearly about this experience is the strange shade of green Paul Thompson went just before he fainted off his chair.

I guess it did prepare me for how men tend to behave in the delivery room, but it probably left poor Paul scarred for life. I imagine the purpose of this gory video nasty was to put us off having babies, but even in my home county of Essex I doubt there were many girls contemplating motherhood at such a tender age.

The problem with teaching children about sex and reproduction in such a graphic and detailed way when they are tiny is that they simply don't understand the concepts involved.

A recent report by the Christian Institute found that books explaining concepts like an orgasm and anal intercourse along with videos featuring full frontal nudity have been approved for use in teaching primary school children about sex.

I am no prude, but is there really any need for a little child to know about these things? Isn't it simply wantonly destroying their innocence?

My own experience of sex education didn't end there. At secondary school we moved on to the biological technicalities of reproduction. I still remember the heated debate in the classroom when we had to draw a picture of an erect penis. Should we go supersize (all the boys did), keep it small and decorous or try for average – as if many 11-year-old girls knew what that was.

Then, when we were a little older, there was the excruciating embarrassment of watching our bearded biology teacher slowly slip a condom on a test tube. I am not sure if he or his pupils were wishing harder for the ground to swallow them up at that moment.

The thing is that none of these tutorials in technique made it any better when it came to the real thing. No diagram of a penis makes it easier to cope when you meet your first real, live one. No teacher explaining how to use a condom makes it simpler for a teenage girl to ask her equally inexperienced boyfriend to use one. And that is the problem with sex education, particularly when it is doled out to those too young to understand it.

It might seem like a great way to cut teen pregnancies to make sure that children don't go into the bedroom, or behind the bike shed, ignorant, but no amount of teaching makes the reality of teen sex any less excruciating or enticing.

Girls don't get pregnant because they don't understand about the birds and the bees, or the penis and the vagina as the recommended texts would teach our tiny tots. They get pregnant because they are too shy, too drunk or too carried away to ask their partner to use a condom, or he is too much of an inexperienced oaf to agree to wear one or because they want a baby to love. How will a storybook about oral sex and different positions read to them in infancy address those problems?

It won't. It will just confuse and upset them if my children are anything to go by. I would be horrified to think of my son being taught from a book that reads 'As they cuddled your dad's penis moved gently inside your mum's vagina and the sperms flowed out'. Yet this passage quoted by the Daily Mail is lifted from from How Did I Begin?, which is recommended for pupils aged seven plus. He just doesn't need to have these images put in his mind at such a tender age.

Graphic texts and videos do nothing but engender embarrassment and disgust (as poor Paul Thompson learnt to this cost). Of course there will always be intense speculation about where babies come from in the primary school playground, but I am all for it remaining a mystery at least until my children reach double digits.

I think it is about time the powers that be let our children be children, and left learning about sex for a time when they might be considering putting that knowledge to some practical purpose.

Even then school can teach you the basics, but only life will fill in the details and that's how it should be.

What do you think?

Suggest a correction