Home Lifestyle Why are we so scared of kids having sex education?

Why are we so scared of kids having sex education?

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Almara thinks imposing age limits on sex education is a dangerous move (Picture: Rachel Adams)

The government is cracking down on sex education and we should all be very worried.

Last year, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak vowed to ‘protect our kids from radical sex education’ and with new guidelines set to be released today, it appears he is making good on his promise.

Leaks from Government sources suggest that the new guidelines will impose age limits on what children in England can learn – with no form of sex education whatsoever until they reach Year 5.

The ban reportedly also includes teachers not being allowed to discuss crucial matters such as gender identity, contraception, sexually transmitted infections or abortion until pupils are aged 13 and up.

I for one think this is a dangerous and reckless move.

As a journalist who specialises in writing about sex, I know just how divisive this topic can be, especially when children are involved in the discussion. 

Parents are rightfully trying to look out for their little ones but I also know just how damaging it can be when we restrict access to information.

Since politicians are focusing far too much on the sex and not enough on the education, allow me to assist.

Firstly, sex education isn’t just about sex – especially when teaching younger students. 

Take body image, as an example. Girls can start puberty from the age of eight (for boys, this tends to happen slightly later), meaning that their bodies may begin to change without them understanding why. 

This isn’t just a physical change; they are bombarded with messages from the world around them about how they ‘should’ look and will compare themselves to their friends.

It’s up to us to explain that every shape deserves the same amount of love and respect.

Limiting information on STIs or consent until age 13 is far too late, in Almara’s view (Picture: Rachel Adams )

Research has also shown that not teaching children the correct phrases for their body parts – vagina, vulva, penis – can impact them negatively or make them feel ashamed.

Junk, lady garden, beaver, muff, wang; all of these slang words are a result of the stigma surrounding using the actual names for our genitalia.

It has also been reported that children knowing the correct names for their body parts can do as much as help protect them from sexual predators and be useful if they experience health issues in those areas. 

So preventing children from having easy access to this information feels irresponsible. 

So do the government’s reported proposals that no information be given on STIs or consent until age 13. 

This is far too late in the game in my view. 

Teaching kids how to have safe sex is not the same as telling them to have sex. Giving them the tools to navigate such situations, should they arise, is a responsible act – not a frivolous one.

Learning about consent is just as important. In my opinion, this should be taught at an early age because it is the only way to counteract the misogynistic, patriarchal society we currently live in.

How I wish someone had told me that it’s OK to say no to sex, even if you’re just ‘not feeling it’ or actually what to do if you get an STI – not just the symptoms of one.

We should also give kids more credit – they are clever and know more than we think, especially with social media just a few taps away.

Many children get their first phone between the ages of 9-11 and, as we all know, the information available online is often unregulated and unchecked – so I can all but promise that they will see far more ‘inappropriate’ and ‘explicit’ content on their phones and tablets than they will ever learn in a classroom.

And that’s why it’s important for teachers to act as a counterbalance to the more extreme information they may receive online. 

We also must talk about the issue with gender identity, which seems to be a particular bugbear for politicians. 

Let’s just call this what it is: transphobia

It appears some people think that talking to children about gender identity will somehow result in them deciding that they suddenly want to change their own.

This is not the case. 

By opening up a conversation on gender – in fact, all of the topics mentioned above – you are allowing children the freedom to expand their minds and understand that the world is not black and white.

The best way to protect kids is not to censor the world but to provide a safe space for them to talk about what they see, hear and feel

Whether you like it or not, children are curious and will seek out answers. 

I am not asking you to talk to a nine-year-old about the literal ins and outs of sex – but you could talk to them about things like why it’s OK if they look or feel different to their peers or that not all people are straight or cisgender.

And if they have any questions, tell them that you are there to guide them.

I was lucky in that my mum always supported me. When I was around 11 years old, I walked into our kitchen and told her that I’d had a dream about a girl – and I was terrified about what this meant.

She calmly explained that this is normal and perhaps it means nothing at all, but that I shouldn’t be ashamed or worried about it.

Maybe the people who really need a sex education refresher are the politicians who run this country, suggests Almara (Picture: Rachel Adams)

This meant everything to me. 

She validated my right to mull it over and come to my own conclusion, and confirmed that her love went beyond my sexuality.

The ironic thing about the ban is that you, the parents and guardians, already have the power to tell teachers you don’t want your children to learn about sex and relationships at school. 

This new age limit doesn’t change that – it just hinders sex education further.

The best way to truly protect kids is not trying to censor the world – because this is an impossible task – but to provide a safe space for them to talk about what they see, hear and feel.

In my view, it is quite clear what is really driving these guidelines: fear. And history has taught us what happens when fear is the dominant feeling behind new legislation, like the recent overturning of Roe v Wade, to name but one example.

So maybe the current format isn’t the problem. Maybe the people who really need a sex education refresher are the politicians who run this country.

Do you have a story you’d like to share? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]

Share your views in the comments below.


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