17/02/2015 17:06 GMT | Updated 20/05/2015 10:12 BST

MPs Call For Compulsory Sex Education Lessons For Five-Year-Olds


Primary school children should be given compulsory sex education, say MPs.

The Education Select Committee has called for sex and relationships education to be placed on the national curriculum for the first time, which would make it a statutory requirement in all state primary and secondary schools.

The move – which would see children as young as five being taught about sex - is seen as necessary because schools are failing to keep pace with the sexualisation of children.

By making sex education compulsory it's hoped it would help address issues such as teenage pregnancy, STI rates, drug and alcohol abuse, cyberbullying and child sexual exploitation.

MPs were told it's now 'normal' for 14-year-olds to pose in bras for social media photos and that around one in three 15-year-olds had sent someone a naked photo of themselves.

Tory MP Graham Stuart, chair of Education Committee, said: "There is an overwhelming demand for statutory sex and relationships education – from teachers, parents and young people themselves.

"It's important that school leaders and governors take PSHE seriously and improve their provision by investing in training for teachers and putting PSHE [personal, social, health and economic education] lessons on the school timetable. Statutory status will help ensure all of this happens."

The Education Select Committee said the Government's current sex education strategy is 'weak'.

The report added: "There is a mismatch between the priority that the Government claims it gives to PSHE and the steps it has taken to improve the quality of teaching in the subject."

It said the Government should develop a plan for introducing age-appropriate PSHE and sex and relationships education (SRE) – which should be renamed relationships and sex education (RSE) – as statutory subjects in primary and secondary schools.

It recommended parents retain the right to withdraw their child from elements of sex education and that the quality of classes could be measured through Ofsted inspections and student and parent satisfaction.

Lauriane Povey, author of Veil of Anonymity, told MPs 'it has become normal for 14-year-old girls to have as their profile picture [on social media] them stood in a bra, and the whole world can see that'.

Dr Zoe Hilton, an executive at the National Crime Agency's Child Exploitation and Online Protection, said 'we have reached the point with older teenagers where sexting is a normative behaviour' and called for better awareness of how damaging it can be.

A Department of Education spokeswoman said: "We want to see all young people leave school prepared for life in modern Britain. This means not only ensuring that young people receive a rigorous academic education, but also helping them to develop personal and emotional well-being.

"High quality PSHE teaching has a vital role to play in this – giving young people a better understanding of the society around them and supporting them to make informed choices and stay safe."

More on Parentdish: The dangers of teenage sexting

Sex Education: MPs Call for Compulsory Lessons in Primary School