[April Wilson | TV Director]
Everyone has a few hazy memories of the sex education they received at school. For a lot of people, it’s remembering the fits of giggles when putting a condom on a banana, for others it’s the horror of seeing STI after STI after STI.
But is the sex education we received at school educational useful? And is it being introduced to us at the right age?
In 2014, the Liberal Democrats believed that the age children should learn sex education should be lowered from 11 to 7 years of age. However, their ideas did not bring about any change, and in 2015 sex education still become compulsory at 11 years of age. However, while some elements of sex education are compulsory in the curriculum as they are listed under science, the parts of sex ed not affiliated with science are not compulsory education, and parents may withdraw their children from this if they wish.
Interested in what the students at the University of Hertfordshire thought about sex ed in schools, Trident Media conducted a survey that reflected some interesting results.
Many students expressed that they were happy with the age they were taught about sex education at school (91.3 per cent do not believe they were taught about it too early), and most disagreed with the Liberal Democrat view that sex education should be taught from 7 years of age, as only 26.09 per cent of participants believed that sex education should be introduced from ages 7-9.
The majority of respondents were introduced to sex education at 10-12 years of age (41.3 per cent). This then correlates with puberty, as puberty usually occurs for girls between the ages of 8 and 14, with 11 as the average age, and for boys between 9 and 14, with 12 as the average age. If puberty then can start before 10 years of age, and for some, from the age of eight, is the Liberal Democrat view more easy to understand?
A common thread of thought for many people on the issues with contemporary sex education is its lack of coverage concerning LGBTQ+ issues (e.g. transgender education, homosexual sex, etc.). Many respondents stated that these issues were not covered in their sex education (95.65 per cent), but many respondents felt that they should have been (86.96 per cent).
When asked how they would set about revamping sex education, a common theme in answers was the inclusion of LGBTQ+ topics (and this was also something people wished had generally covered in more detail), as well as generally approaching a more diverse range of subjects:
“Children need to be aware that things aren’t black and white and that’s okay and normal.” – Anonymous survey participant
Another issue that was raised by respondents was that sex education topics need to relate to young people more in this modern day and age, such as online safety and sexting.
Also, the issue of pornography was brought up, as with the advent of the digital age, pornography is source that many now turn to as a way of learning about sex. What they may see though is not always the reality and survey results suggest this needs to be addressed.
Overall, 73.91 per cent of participants believed that sex education needed a “revamp” in terms of content. It seems then that this topic is far from being closed.