Sex Education: Today's children want facts for life as tomorrow's adults

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The Independent Online
Sex education has been hotly debated in schools for decades. Pupils say that teachers do not tell them enough. Some teachers fear parents will complain if they go into too much detail.

A sex education pressure group will today call on the Government to make sex education lessons compulsory as part of Personal and Social Education (PSE). The Sex Education Forum, which is issuing a five-point charter, argues that sex education is about much more than the mechanics of reproduction, HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

It wants PSE to become a statutory subject when the national curriculum is revised in 2000 to include a much wider definition of sex education, for example, moral values and beliefs about sex.

Gill Lenderyou, the forum's senior development officer, said: "We know that many teachers feel ill-equipped to deliver PSE programmes, and that sex education can often be sacrificed to the pressure of an overcrowded curriculum.

"We know that although very few parents withdraw their children from sex education, fear of parental disapproval and adverse media coverage can undermine the confidence of schools in developing and delivering sex education policies."

The charter says that teachers should be taught the skills and knowledge to support young people's personal and social development, and that there should be statutory guidance on teacher-pupil confidentiality.

Research shows that most pupils and parents think young people should learn about sex at school as well as at home.