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19 September 2008

fpa pamphlet sparks controversy

A sex education booklet aimed at six-year-olds has been published by a UK sexual health charity.

fpa, formerly the Family Planning Association, said the comic would be available for all UK schools to buy. Parents have the right to prevent their children from seeing it but family campaigners have called it an attack on children’s “natural modesty”, BBC News reports.

The 12-page booklet asks children to identify what the differences are between the two genders. Called Let’s Grow with Nisha and Joe, fpa hopes it will encourage discussion about the facts of life at a young age.

Topics covered include naming parts of the body, the importance of family and friends and how to keep safe.

Julie Bentley, chief executive of fpa, said: “Sex and relationships education at this age is about learning basic information and skills, in exactly the same way that children start with ABC when they begin to read and write.

She said the six and seven-year-old target age group wanted to talk about their feelings, bodies, and relationships.

“It’s important that they have this information before their bodies start to change. Talking about body parts is often easier for children when they are younger as they are less self-conscious and less sensitive about their bodies.”

But Norman Wells, director of Family and Youth Concern, said it was up to parents and carers to teach sex education to children.

“This is all part of an exercise to break down children’s inhibitions and natural sense of modesty. Most parents would be very concerned if they knew that their children were being given literature at school produced by an organisation that doesn’t put sexual intimacy in a clear moral context and that fails to respect the role of parents.”

He said that fpa had published the booklet as part of a plan to put pressure on the government as it reviews sex and relationship education in schools.

This year Northern Ireland has made relationships and sexuality education compulsory for school children from the age of five. Elsewhere, schools must teach pupils the basics of human reproduction as part of their science lessons, but there is nothing about the emotional side of sex and relationships.

fpa has tested the booklet in more than 50 primary schools with pupils and teachers having input to the comic’s content and design. It has printed 50,000 copies. Children are encouraged to take the booklet home and show it to their parents and carers.

Sex education for six-year-olds. BBC News, 18 September 2008

Let’s grow with Nisha and Joe is available on the fpa website.