The head of an outstanding school has warned of the dangers of burdening children with too much information at a young age.
Peter Tait, headmaster of Sherborne Preparatory School, said that exposing children to things they are not ready for can lead to “severe psychological and emotional difficulties in later life”.
His comments coincide with calls for compulsory sex education in primary schools by the Labour Party and reports of inappropriate questioning in schools by Ofsted inspectors.
Writing for the Telegraph online, Tait described the assault of information which affects children in the modern age.
He wrote: “In our current world, children are subjected to a veritable surfeit of information which, unfiltered, can destroy their innocence and produce social and emotional problems on a scale that we are only now properly recognising.”
The headteacher argued that the damaging effects of information on children are evident “everywhere”, on “mental health, on self-image, on diet” and “self-harming”.
He continued, “while we struggle to teach children how to use and filter the Internet, we have other sections of society determined to inform young children about issues of sexuality, of adult problems, of diseases and behaviours at a younger and younger age”.
His concerns contrast with the recent actions of schools’ regulator Ofsted, accused of inappropriately questioning children as young as six.
Inspectors are reported to have asked children at a Christian school if they knew what lesbians “did” and if their friends felt trapped in the “wrong body”.
Warped political correctness
Tait goes on to accuse Ofsted and other Government agencies of obsessively attempting to inform “children about issues that they are neither intellectually, physically or emotionally equipped to handle”.
He criticises this “adherence to some warped political correctness”, describing it as an “act that borders on criminal”.
His comments directly challenge the Labour Party’s recent pledge to make sex education compulsory for children as young as five, if Labour wins the General Election.
Spokesman for The Christian Institute Simon Calvert said: “We are all concerned about the sexualisation of young people, particularly with the influence of the internet and social media but Labour have landed on the wrong solution.
“For three decades the cry has been that we must have more sex education, of a more explicit nature, at an ever younger age – and look where it has got us.
“We should end the defeatism that says all children will inevitably be exposed to pornography and engage in underage sexual activity. It is a counsel of despair.”