Five-year-olds should be taught about sex, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is controversially claiming.
Only weeks after the previous Government failed in its attempt to force schools to teach Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) to children as young as five, NICE says sex education is important for children’s “wellbeing”.
But Norman Wells, Director of the Family Education Trust, said those behind NICE’s recommendations included “lobby groups with an agenda to break down moral standards”.
Advisers for the NICE draft guidance included representatives from Stonewall, the ‘gay rights’ group, FPA (formerly the Family Planning Association) and the sexual health charity Brook.
In the 74-page draft guidance, NICE says SRE shouldn’t focus on the risks of pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections, but should highlight the importance of “mutually rewarding sexual relationships for individual wellbeing”.
NICE, the state health advisory body, also criticises abstinence-only sex education programmes, saying such approaches “may increase early sexual activity and its consequent risks”.
But the report, which also gives advice on alcohol, backs a “say no” approach to drinking.
The proposed guidance does note that the teaching of SRE should be “sensitive to diverse cultural, faith and family perspectives”.
Critics have blasted NICE’s draft guidance. Patricia Morgan, an academic and social policy expert, said: “There is no evidence which shows that the more children are taught about sex, the less likely they are to become pregnant.
“The more children are told, the more likely they are to experiment.”
Norman Wells said: “The team that drafted the guidance included lobby groups with an agenda to break down moral standards and redefine the family.
“Organisations with a commitment to marriage and traditional family values were not represented”.
The draft guidance, in reference to children and young people, claims that SRE “does not cause them to have sex at an earlier age, or to have more sex, or sex with more partners, and nor does it increase the number of unwanted or teenage conceptions and abortions”.
The guidance will not force schools to teach about sex to five-year-olds but reports suggest that head teachers may be put under pressure to set SRE lessons as a result.
NICE’s final guidance is due to be released in January. The consultation on the draft guidance closes on 15 July.
In April, shortly before Parliament was dissolved for the election, the previous Government bowed to time pressure and withdrew its highly controversial sex education plans for England.
Under the proposals, sex education was to become a statutory part of the national curriculum and control over the content of lessons was to be taken away from school governors and given to Whitehall officials.
Children were to be taught that same-sex civil partnerships were equal in value to marriage.
Faith schools were also set to be forced to teach children about homosexuality and tell kids how to access contraception.