Letter: Sex education in a moral vacuum

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Sir: Your leading article of today was right to stress how much some young children already talk about sexual matters ('Mars bars wouldn't melt in their mouths', 24 March). This cannot excuse, however, the seemingly explicit approach to sexual education taken by Highfield Primary School, Leeds.

It is important for society to appreciate that much of the knowledge which children possess is very partial and that playground chat operates within a moral vacuum. If sex education is to happen at an early age, information on safe sex, and the knowledge that under-16 intercourse is illegal, is inadequate. Children must also learn that sex should take place within a faithful, loving relationship and that marriage is the ideal. One person may be happy with a one-night stand, the other partner might be badly hurt by such a shallow encounter.

Marriage is the clearest demonstration by sexual partners that they are committed to one another and particularly to the children that their sexual relationships might produce. Indeed, moral behaviour is certainly better than contraception as a defence against unwanted pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases.

While you are right to say that our culture already robs children of their innocence of sexual matters, it is difficult to see why schools should seek to accelerate this loss of innocence. Parents must take the lead in dictating when they feel they might like help from teachers in instructing their children on this subject, and the 1993 Education Act rightly defends their right to withdraw their children from sex education classes.

Schools must be more receptive to the moral outlook that most parents still hold; and if a few children in a class seem particularly in need of guidance, they should be dealt with separately from the rest of the class, and only following consultation with their parents.

Yours faithfully,

TIM MONTGOMERIE

Chairman

Conservative Christian Fellowship

London, N2

24 March

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