Letter: Early lessons in sex education

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The Independent Online
Sir: I found Margaret Maxwell's article 'Dodging the facts of life' (26 October) quite upsetting. As a GP and mother of three children, aged 15, 11 and eight, I am continually amazed by the stubbornly persistent attitude among supposedly thoughtful parents that sex education has to wait for a suitable age. Don't they realise that girls of 10 can start their periods, girls of 13 or 14 can and do get pregnant, and children of any age can be sexually abused?

Can't they see there is no embarrassment involved in answering three-, four- or five-year-olds' questions about their bodies in a way appropriate to their understanding, then building on this basis as issues arise?

To leave sex education until the age of nine, ten or 11 is too late for it to be a natural part of learning; it then becomes contrived. Children must be empowered to have control over their own bodies. Accurate information, discussed in a relaxed way, is an essential factor. Parents who avoid this responsibility put their children at risk - and that is no laughing matter nowadays.

Yours faithfully,

CLARE HALSTED

London, NW5

26 October

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