Please Excuse My Language, but LACK of Sex Education Isn't the Problem

Article excerpt

Byline: TOM UTLEY

HOW can anyone seriously believe that the reason Britain has the highestteenage pregnancy rate in Europe is that there's too little sex education inour schools? Apparently, plenty do.

This week a letter appeared in The Times, saying that the solution lay incompulsory sex and relationships lessons throughout every pupil's time atschool.

It was signed by 99 assorted quangocrats, MPs and do-goodersincluding that deliciously unlikely pair, Davina McCall and Polly Toynbeealong with 539 members of the sublimely fatuous UK Youth Parliament.

It began: 'Sir, Half the young people in the UK today have not been taughtabout teenage pregnancy and wouldn't know where to find their local sexualhealth clinic. These figures from a UK Youth Parliament survey of over 20,000young people may go some way to explaining disproportionately high rates ofteenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections in this country.'Half-witted Really? I have no difficulty at all in believing that half of youngpeople don't know where to find their local sexual health clinic.

I confess I haven't a clue where mine is (although, unlike so many teenagersthese days, I know how to readand I suspect I wouldn't have much trouble looking it up in the phone book,should the need arise).

But do these 638 half-witted signatories honestly expect us to believe thatteenagers are getting pregnant and contracting venereal diseases in modernBritain because they don't know what causes these things or how to preventthem? Have they never met a British teenager, opened a teenage magazine orglanced at the sort of TV programmes youngsters watch (many of them presentedby Davina herself)? As it happensalthough clearly nobody has told Davina, Polly and Cosex education is already a compulsory part of the national science curriculum,which all 11 to 16-year-olds in state schools have to study at Key Stage 3.

Indeed, it's a scandal that parents are denied the right to spare theirchildren from Whitehall's liberal-orthodox line on these matters.

By a remarkable coincidence, on the very day that letter appeared in The Times,my own 14-year-old arrived home from school clutching no fewer than sevenpamphlets he'd been given by his teachers, all of them about sex.

The poor boy had been made to endure an entire day at his South Londoncomprehensive, devoted from beginning to end to the sort of lessons that Pollyand Davina believe will help to cure Britain's teenage pregnancy and VDproblems.

(Incidentally, this was also the day when the OECD announced that Britishteenagers had plummeted in the world league tables for maths and literacya fact perhaps not unconnected with the inordinate amount of time our schoolsare forced to waste on indoctrinating their pupils in politicians' latestenthusiasms.) I asked the boy how it went and, as you can imagine, he wasn'tvery forthcoming.

It's boring and embarrassing enough for a football-crazy 14-year-old to have toput up with being lectured about sex all day at school. But it's more thanteenage flesh and blood can stand to be grilled about it by his journalistfather on his return home.

What exactly had he been taught? He rolled his eyes, groaned and said: 'Oh, youknowthe usual stuff: gonorrhoea, syphilis, chlamydia, condoms, HIV ...' Yes, hesaid, there had been a lot of giggling. And, yes, grrrrr, he and his classmatesboth boys and girls had been taught yet again how to put on a condom.

And, no, they hadn't used bananas, they'd used a 'dildo-type thing'. And, no,he hadn't volunteered to have a try ...

Unsuitable With that, he brought our interview to an abrupt end by stalking offto his room. He did, however, leave his seven pamphlets on the kitchen tableand I seized my chance to have a look. …