A sexual health group has launched a new comic-style booklet to teach six- and seven-year-olds about sex.
The FPA (formerly known as the Family Planning Association) has provoked criticism from family campaigners with its new booklet, Let’s grow with Nisha and Joe.
The booklet aims to “gently introduce 6-7 year olds to the concepts of growth and physical change, using reassuring stories and pictures”.
Activities include a puzzle asking children to draw a line from the words “vagina” and “testicles” to the correct areas of a picture of a naked girl and boy.
The FPA says that starting sex education with young children avoids embarrassment and makes the most of their natural inquisitiveness.
But family groups say that years of “value-free” sex education have been a disaster.
Dr Trevor Stammers, of the Family Education Trust, said: “The FPA seem to think that by doing the same thing with younger and younger children they are going to get a different result. Actually they are going to reap the whirlwind.
“There is a constant emphasis on biological knowledge and an absence of understanding that feelings can be hurt and sex outside a loving relationship leads to damage and retreat.”
Norman Wells, director of Family and Youth Concern, added: “This is all part of an exercise to break down children’s inhibitions and natural sense of modesty.
“Most parents would be very concerned if they knew that their children were being given literature at school produced by an organisation that doesn’t put sexual intimacy in a clear moral context and that fails to respect the role of parents.”
The FPA is represented on a panel responsible for reviewing the delivery of sex education in schools. There are concerns that the review could lead to more sex education being given to children at very young age.
The FPA is currently campaigning for the UK abortion law to be extended to Northern Ireland, where the practice is currently unlawful except to preserve the mother’s life.