On the pulse: Should sex education be compulsory in primary schools?

Sex education should be compulsory in primary schools, according to a recent government report.

MPs are insisting the Department of Education should devise a long-term plan to introduce age-appropriate personal, social and health education (PSHE) in both primary and secondary schools.

Currently primary schools do not have to teach sex education beyond what is required in science lessons.

The number of under-18 pregnancies in England and Wales has fallen by 10% according to data released by the Office for National Statistics this week.

However UK teenage pregnancy and abortion rates are still the highest in Western Europe – five times higher than the Netherlands, double the French rates and more than twice those in Germany.

While the suggestion has been welcomed by campaigners including Object and Girlguiding, worries about children becoming over-sexualised are more prevalent than ever.

SW Londoner took to the streets to gauge the opinion of Wimbledon residents by asking:

Should sex education be compulsory in primary schools?

46% 54%

More than half of those asked were against mandatory primary school sex education.

Nicola Stewart, a 25-year-old reception teacher living in Wimbledon, said: “No, they are already taught enough about the human body. They are just innocent children and they are too young to learn about sex. Let children be children.”

This opinion was reflected by Charlene Sutton, a 33-year-old sales assistant from Mitcham.

She said: “If you are telling them about it already they will want to be finding out about it for themselves. My son hasn’t been told about it and he doesn’t care about it.

“I would rather they were playing on their bikes as they are just too young. They should stick to their books.”

These concerns are reflected by Michael Randall, 21, a project engineer from Epsom, who said: “The video of someone twerking goes viral and they all want to do that. What if we teach them about sex?”

Those wishing for children to be educated from a young age about sex were also very vocal.

Vanessa Robinson, a 39-year-old charity worker from Wimbledon recalled a horror story of young children acting older than their age.

“My friend is a headteacher and two years ago she caught two children trying to have it off in the art shed,” she said.

“They need to be taught before they enter the real world.

“A girl at university had opted out of sex education and she thought you could get pregnant by sitting on a seat a man had sat on. She was twenty years old!”

Sheila Doyle, an office manager, 59, from Tooting worries about her eight-year-old grandson.

“There are lots of children who don’t get any sex education at all. If it was given at school you would get the biological side and emotional side,” she said.

Views that children need to be safeguarded were reflected by Scott Timmonds, a 42-year-old dad from Balham.

He said: “The word we are using is ‘sex’ but we really need to be teaching children about relationships.”

James Grey, 21, a wholesale worker from Wimbledon agreed.

“Teaching about relationships is what is really important,” he said.

Picture courtesy of Skype English Lessons, with thanks

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