Nudity and naturism is 'best way to teach sex education' to children

'No one knows what's normal anymore'

Jess Staufenberg
Monday 13 June 2016 16:28
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Bottom line: Naturists at the North East Skinny Dip, Druridge Bay
Bottom line: Naturists at the North East Skinny Dip, Druridge Bay

Children should be receiving a sex education that teaches nudity is normal, as a way of reducing unhealthy and oversexualised attitudes to naked bodies, a report has said.

A "very British" prudishness about not wearing any clothes means children get their mainstream ideas about bodies from glamour adverts, Hollywood and pornography in a way that makes them sexualise nakedness, according to nudist organisation British Naturism.

The new 36-page report calls on politicians, parents, teachers and the BBC to represent nudity as normal rather than sexualised and exceptional.

"Children should know about how their bodies work [...]. This should be done ideally by bringing up children in a naturist environment where body honesty is key," said the report.

"But otherwise through good, explicit, factually correct and non-judgmental sex and relationships education."

The report comes after Nicky Morgan announced in February that PSHE (personal, social, health and economic education) and sex education would not be compulsory across UK primary schools. Her decision went against the advice of the Commons Education Committee.

But a few hours of sex education a year will not alter attitudes to the body that are reinforced across society, said members of British Naturism.

As nature intended: A young man relaxes after a game of naturist-only mini-tennis

Andrew Welch, a spokesman for the organisation, said the UK needed "more non-sexual nudity, not less".

"The protection of our children has to be paramount, but the line is being drawn in the wrong place," he told The Independent.

"By suppressing something and keeping it hidden it means that nobody learns the truth. Teenagers grow up thinking that a normal body is the one in the adverts or young men see pornography and take it from that.

"No one knows what's normal anymore."

Children in England ranked lowest for satisfaction with their appearance out of 11 countries, higher only than South Korea, according to the Children's Society. Meanwhile a UNICEF report has shown child wellbeing in the UK is lower than most other European countries.

Anna Feuchtwang, chief executive of the National Children's Bureau, said: "Young people tell us time and again they want better teaching on the essential topics covered within PSHE: sex and relationships, physical and mental health, financial and political education, and bullying.

"Yet despite this, PSHE is still woefully inadequate, with Ofsted finding that teaching feel short in 40 per cent of schools."

The Department for Education said: "High quality sex and relationship education is a vital part of preparing young people for life in modern Britain, helping them make informed choices and stay safe.

"That’s why it is compulsory in all maintained secondary schools, and we expect academies to teach it as part of a broad and balanced curriculum. Schools can also cover related topics in PSHE and to support this, we have commissioned guidance on a number of issues including promote positive body image."

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