Explicit sex education materials for children as young as five have been slammed by a leading academic.
Professor Brenda Almond said that most five-year-olds have no interest in matters to do with sex and “wouldn’t even recognise the word”.
And she believes that teenage pregnancies and other related problems “will not be solved” by more sex education.
Prof Almond referred to the “worrying new investigation”, which was conducted recently by The Christian Institute.
Commenting on the explicit sex ed materials she warned: “There are comic-book-style pictures of different sexual positions, cartoon explanations of masturbation and orgasm, and crayoned drawings that are supposed to explain the difference between heterosexuality and homosexuality — with anal sex getting a special mention.”
Her conclusion was clear: “For five-year-olds! So much for an age of innocence”.
The professor went on: “Teenagers can legally drive a car when they are 17, but we wouldn’t dream of starting to teach them how to do it when they are five.
“So why is it suddenly different when it comes to sex?”
She concluded: “Answer: it isn’t”.
She went on to argue that children aged five to eight are “simply not emotionally ready for this sort of information.”
Not only are their bodies not ready for sex, she said, but neither are their minds.
“It plays no part in their lives and that, in my opinion, is exactly how it should stay”.
Psychologists and teachers, she explained, are well aware that the years from seven to eleven in a child’s life are a “wonderful time for teaching”.
“They’re so interested in everything – making things, forming friendships, joining activity clubs and developing skills in music, art, sport, language, cookery and competitive games”, she said.
“They do not want – and do not need – to be distracted by the adolescent and adult preoccupation with sex”.
Prof Almond observed that, from the moment they start school, children are being “bombarded with sex education”.
She continued: “And what is the unsurprising consequence of teaching children about sex at a younger and younger age?
“They go and try it out at a younger and younger age, leading to more pregnancies among very young teenagers and higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases.”
She warned that even the “very modest fall” in teenage pregnancies in the last couple of years seems to be linked to an increase in the number of early abortions, saying “I’d hardy call that progress.”
She also pointed out the emotional damage that graphic sex education could be doing to many children, depriving them of the innocent simplicity of childhood.
“Children grow up at different speeds and in different ways”, she said.
Some may have regrettably seen pornographic images by the time they are seven, others will have had parents who carefully monitor what they see, but sex education classes treat everyone as if they are becoming sexually experienced at a very young age.
She added: “But it is parents who best understand what their children need to know – and when – not people with improbable ideas about education,” she added, “and certainly not government ministers.”
The professor concluded with a call for sex education to be “completely over-hauled”, as there is a risk that educationalists’ “fashionable theories” could “damage an entire generation”.
“Sex education needs to be taken out of primary schools altogether”, she said, “and responsibility for it should be handed back to parents.
“Children, after all, belong to their parents; they are not the property of the state”.
Prof Almond is Emeritus Professor of Moral and Social Philosophy at the University of Hull and President of the Philosophical Society of England.
She has also been the author of a number of books in the fields of philosophy, ethics and education, including ‘The Fragmenting Family’ and ‘Moral Concerns’.
She is also the editor of the book series ‘Contemporary Ethical Debates’.