The one place we think our children are going to be safe is school. We trust teachers to look after, as well as educate, them, in the confident expectation that they’ll be given the best start and fully prepared for life ahead.
What we do not expect is that they’ll receive teaching that will put them at risk by advocating hazardous behaviours that will expose them to a range of infections, some of which are life threatening and some of which can’t be treated.
But that is exactly what is happening today.
The Government is advocating mandatory relationships education for all children in primary school, and for sex and relationships education for all children in secondary school – ostensibly in order for them to stay safe and healthy in our increasing sexualized and perilous world (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/schools-to-teach-21st-century-relationships-and-sex-education). If ever there was a spectacular failure of outcome over intent, this is it!
At first glance the proposal sounds good. We all want to protect children, just as we all want them to realize their full potential and be happy. But the reality is that current teaching about ‘safe sex’, the delivery of which is designed to avoid any hint of criticism or judgment, is seriously endangering their health. If we really want to keep children safe, all teaching about sex should come with a mandatory health warning of the dangers run by sexual experimentation and promiscuity.
In the 1960s there were two major sexually transmitted diseases, syphilis and gonorrhoea. With very minor exceptions, where children suffered sexual abuse at the hands of infected predatory adults, cases were confined to the adult population (classified as those over 25), and kept in check by the wonder drug penicillin.
That is not the case today.
Currently there are 27 identifiable STIs in the UK, not all of which are treatable, and some of which are becoming increasingly antibiotic resistant (e.g. gonorrhoea). More to the point, young people are particularly susceptible to infection, and STI rates among teenagers have reached epidemic proportions. According to medical experts, the country is fast approaching a sexual health crisis.
‘REAL’ FACTS: Young people aged less than 25 experience the highest rates of STIs in the UK (http://www.fpa.org.uk/factsheets/teenagers-sexual-health-behaviour).
In 2015, 15 to 24-year-olds accounted for 62% of those diagnosed with chlamydia, 52% with gonorrhoea, 51% with genital warts, and 41% with genital herpes. Infection rates for men who have sex with men were, also according to FPA figures, ‘disproportionately” higher (http://www.fpa.org.uk/factsheets/sexually-transmitted-infections).
‘FAKE’ FACTS: Provided you use a condom, whatever you do is okay.
Children are told that to avoid unwanted pregnancy and stay safe they should always use a condom. This is misleading and dangerous. Condoms, even where used correctly, are only 85% successful in preventing pregnancy, and never provide complete protection against infection – on top of which, contrary to what is said, some STIs are transmitted not by the exchange of bodily fluids, but by skin-to-skin contact, in which case condoms provide absolutely no protection at all. For example, HPV (in women the precursor to cervical cancer), genital herpes, syphilis, pubic lice, and molluscum contagium.
Children are not warned about this, nor told of the increasing difficulties in treating infections – which may on occasion make it impossible for them to wear a swimsuit and, longer term, may lead to infertility, blindness, insanity, and death.
Treating such avoidable infections not only carries no guarantee of success, but is highly costly to the NHS and an unnecessary drain on precious resources. Yet, more to the point, the contraction of STIs poses a major danger to children’s health and future wellbeing.
This is all so unnecessary. We warn our children of the dangers of consuming too much sugar and junk food, and of the health risks attaching to smoking and drugs – yet in this one, vital area, we stay silent. The truth is, we are failing our children, and for their protection and wellbeing, this has got to stop.
As a matter of priority, all Sex and Relationships Education should carry a mandatory health warning of the risks attaching to casual, non-monogamous sex.
Shared values and Community are good – shared infections are not!
Please sign our petition calling for it be made mandatory for all sex education delivered in UK schools to contain full and comprehensive information of the health risks attaching to non-monogamous sex. Sign here: http://www.citizengo.org/en/signit/70761/view
And please go along to your child’s school and ask the teachers and Head what they are doing to alert children to the dangers. Together we can keep children safe!