Sex lesson guidance stresses right to say 'No'

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The Independent Online

Sex education lessons in secondary schools should stress the right to say “no”, new government guidance said today.

They should correct the myth that “everyone is doing it”, it adds.

“In the 21st century, children and young people are exposed to sexual imagery and content in a wide array of media including adverts, the internet, video games, mobile phones, pop songs, TV and magazines,” says the guidance.

“These media often present a distorted and inaccurate view of sex and relationships and provide increasingly explicit images of sex and sexuality.”

The guidance, which follows the decision to make sex education mandatory in schools from September 2011 as part of personal, social and health education, also stresses the importance of marriage.

The original sparked outrage amongst religious groups because it insisted contraception should be included as a topic for debate and tolerance for diverse lifestyles such as gay relationships.

However, the new guidance has been drawn up in consultation with different faith groups.

Children should be first taught about sex at the age of seven, it adds, arguing that some pupils reach puberty by the age of eight without any explanation from parents or anyone about what it involved.

Schools Secretary Ed Balls said: “Young people today grow up in a very different world to the one their parents knew as children.

“New technologies and a 24-hour media mean that young people are increasingly exposed to image and content that can make them feel pressure to be sexually active before they are ready.”