Aids education for seven-year olds, county proposes

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

CHILDREN as young as seven are to be taught about Aids in Warwickshire schools. PAMPHLETS dealing with the question of Aids

Pamphlets entitled Aids and Children are to be sent to primary and middle schools next term by the county's Warwickshire Health Authority. They will be used as background material for teaching children as young as seven about health education.

They suggest asking children if they can be infected by having sexual intercourse without a condom, or having sex with a condom if it is not used properly. Another suggestion is for a face-painting session giving children the chance to paint friends' faces as they think an Aids sufferer would look.

During a trial period with 11-year-olds, children were encouraged to write down all the words they associated with Aids, in what the health authority called a 'HIV brainstorm'. Children came up with words like 'condom', 'lezzies', and 'prostitutes'.

James Pawsey, the Conservative MP for Rugby and Kenilworth, last night opposed the plan and said it would destroy the innocence of young children. 'I am not at all certain that at this young age children should be exposed to the type of literature the health authority is sending out. To introduce it so early in a child's life is destroying innocence and that is really not on. 'It would be more appropriate in my view to introduce it much later on in secondary school.'

The health authority defended its actions by by saying it was up to individual schools to choose what curriculum to teach. to children.

Heather Page, a spokeswoman, for the authority the Warwickshire health authority said: 'Children only hear about the threat of Aids in the playground. We are trying to get schools to educate them about the dangers in a proper environment.

'It is up to each individual school as to what they teach the children; we only issue them with suggested guidelines.'

From this September, Next month, new sex education changes come into force. In primary schools, governing bodies will have to consider at what stage they offer sex education. They must keep a written statement of policy, which must be available to parents.

In secondary schools, sex education, including facts about , including education about HIV and Aids, must be provided for all registered pupils. It should encourage young people to 'have regard to moral considerations and the value of family life' and Parents may withdraw their children if they wish.

The health authority said children learn about Aids from other sources, and this lead to confusing, misleading or wrong information. Ms Page said: 'Research by Barnardo's shows that only two per cent of 13 year olds have not heard of Aids, and the majority of eight year olds do know about it. For the most part children's information is patchy, and they get very worried.' Aids education for seven-year-olds planned by county