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Have the Birds and the Bees Been Replaced With Sex Toys?

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What can you remember about being told about the 'facts of life'? Was it your best friend, teacher or worse still, your mother who tried to explain what went on 'down below'? If like me you still didn't understand it, you might have had a quiet word with your biology teacher at the end of a lesson.

But when someone recently told me a local secondary school used a dildo to demonstrate how to put on a condom during their PSHE (personal, social and health education) class, my jaw hit the floor with incredulity. But when I suggested this was a step too far in our culture of 'everyone must know everything as soon as possible', the person imparting his greater knowledge shouted me down and told it was essential children were told every detail.

I decided the audience at a friend's barbecue was not either the time or the place, but given a different time and location, I would have stood my ground and argued the point.

But perhaps I am out of touch? Maybe it really is essential our children are drilled with endless quantities of sexually explicit material so that they can avoid the pitfalls of our forebears in the form of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and unwanted pregnancies.

However the statistics indicate our attempts to prevent problems are falling on deaf ears; to give you some idea of what we are up against, the Department of Health figures for 2011 recorded 196,082 abortions and 3,258 of those were for girls aged 16 years or younger and in 2009 there were 482,696 new cases of STDs reported and two thirds of these were amongst females aged 15-24.

So does the modern method of sex education 'educate' or encourage experimentation and exploitation? Has sex education's evolution made a difference?

Whilst condoms (made from a variety of materials including sheep gut and leather) have been around for centuries, the history of sex education is a little vague.

Ancient Egyptians used pessaries made from various formulas including acacia gum, a mixture of honey and sodium carbonate and crocodile dung, to prevent conception.

However, following the 14th Century Great Plague, in their effort to repopulate Europe, the Church policy was to destroy all knowledge of birth control including the persecution of midwives.

It was following the Second World War when the combination of population migration and the influx of soldiers led to a change in national policy and children were educated in an attempt to halt the spread of syphilis and gonorrhoea.

So by the 1970s sex education had become part of the curriculum and since the emergence of the AIDS virus in the 1980s, there has been a national campaign to raise awareness as to the dangers of unprotected sex.

In recent years, the lessons have encompassed a whole raft of other socially motivated issues e.g. relationships, homosexuality and masturbation.

There is still a parental option to withdraw your child from the class but given the consequences of this i.e. peer pressure and victimisation, it is likely every child will be educated at some point during their school life.

But even with graphic sex education children often learn more from friends or the media however, with 26 girls in every 1,000 aged between 15-19 falling pregnant, the UK still has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe; this compares with the Netherlands where it is just five in every 1,000.

Diane Abbot , Shadow Minister for Public Health, said "the rising number of girls having under age sex is alarming... The underlying cause must be the 'pornification' of British culture..."

A sexual health survey carried out by the Health and Social Care Information Centre showed men averaged 9.3 female partners in a lifetime whilst women had 4.7 male partners and 20% of the men questioned said they have had under age sex compared with 14% of women (the age of consent in the UK is 16 for both heterosexual and homosexual activity).

Conversely only 30% of men sought contraception advice compared with 45% of women with men preferring to buy over the counter supplies and women seeking advice from health professionals.

2010 data showed a high but stable rate of STD's, the most common being chlamydia with 189,612 cases and genital warts with 75,615 cases reported.

England is one of the few countries that has established a specific programme for prevention and control of chlamydia, the National Chlamydia Screening Programme.

So what is it that is going wrong, with children as young as four being sexually educated and the teenage conception rate at 40 in every 1,000 under 18 year old girls, it would seem our saturation of sex education is not having the desired effect?

Has the national culture of binge drinking, excessive behaviour and lack of respect for those in authority that has developed over the years, combined to create a promiscuous youth that seeks their own sexual gratification at the cost of destroying the depleting morals and principles of our society?

But it is wrong to expect the schools to re-educate children when the seed of illicit behaviour has already been sown, it is family life and parenting where the rot sets in and it is also here where the standard has to be set.

But what hope of that?

Around the Web

Sex education - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sex education: what role should parents play? | Society | guardian ...

Sex education helps young people make better choices | Society ...

Sex education | Education | The Guardian

BBC - Newsbeat - Sex education 'not good enough' new research ...

Sex Ed Isn't The Only Important Relationship Lesson For Teens

Cervical Cancer Jab 'Gives Youngsters Green Light For Promiscuity', Charity ...

Schools failing to teach pupils about infertility

'The right thing to do': Scotland to legalise gay marriage

Mumsnet vs the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child on sex education