Cinema-style age ratings for sex education videos

The Government will consider whether to give sex education videos a cinema-style age rating, in a bid to offer parents more reassurance.

It follows recent action taken by the Government against the BBC and Channel 4 for overly-explicit content.

Both broadcasters were ordered to clean up their sex education materials after the matter came to the attention of ministers.


One MP said a BBC video for primary schools was “like a blue movie” and was “shattering the innocence of childhood”.

A different resource produced by Channel 4 for use with primary-aged children features a video of cartoon characters having sex.

The accompanying workbook asks children as young as five to point out the clitoris.


The materials – and the local councils that recommend them – were uncovered in a Christian Institute report, “Too Much Too Young”.

Last week culture minister Ed Vaizey confirmed that the Government is looking at cinema-style age ratings for educational videos.

Experts believe that the more graphic materials could be classified as over 12 or over 15.


At the moment videos produced for educational purposes are exempt from age ratings. But the Government is reviewing that position.

If the plans are enacted, it would be a crime to sell age-restricted material to an underage child.

And while schools would not by breaking the law by showing 12+ material to a child under the age of 12, teachers would be highly unlikely to do so.


Mr Vaizey told a group of MPs that he would meet with the board of film classification to discuss the issue.

A Government spokesman added: “Essentially, this would mirror what the Government is currently doing for video games.

“If something is aimed at 12 and over, then it would need a statutory classification and it would be an offence to supply it to someone who doesn’t meet the age criteria.”

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