Talk about sex at age 11, Government tells parents

Parents should have regular conversations about sex and relationships with their children from as early as eleven years old, according to a Government report.

The report was written by a teen magazine agony aunt and commissioned by the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

It also advised that storylines in crude TV soap operas, like Hollyoaks, should be used by parents to help start conversations with their children.

The report comes amid a review of Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) in schools. Campaigners are calling for SRE to become compulsory from the age of four upwards.

The report questioned 500 parents and teenagers. It claims that many parents are reluctant to discuss SRE-related topics at home, though three-quarters of the teenagers said they wanted to.

Just 64 per cent of teenagers regularly eat meals with their parents – a crucial time for family conversation, the report said.

Anita Naik, who writes agony aunt pages for teenage magazines, authored the report.

She said: “Parents who hold back, be it out of embarrassment or lack of confidence in their own knowledge, risk adding to the ‘recipe’ that’s said to raise the odds of a teen having sex early.

“Waiting until teens are older to begin discussions is also risky. Although the majority of teens don’t have sex until at least 16, many younger teens feel pressure to have early sex and need support to make safe and healthy choices.”

Ministers say that if SRE does become compulsory beyond the current minimum requirements, parents will be informed of what their children are learning at school.

But family campaigners say that parents should be in control of what, and when, their children learn about sex.

Norman Wells, of the Family Education Trust, said: “Parents will do far more by being good role models than going out of their way to initiate conversations about sexual intimacy that children don’t need to know about.”