No Truth, No Morality Allowed says Gov't: Parents Told not to Teach Right, Wrong in Sex Education

PARENTS should avoid trying to convince their teenage children of the difference between right and wrong when talking to them about sex, a new government leaflet is to advise. Instead, any discussion of values should be kept “light” to encourage teenagers to form their own views, according to the brochure, which one critic has called “amoral”.

Talking to Your Teenager About Sex and Relationships will be distributed in pharmacies from next month as part of an initiative led by Beverley Hughes, the children’s minister.

The leaflet comes in the wake of the case of Alfie Patten, the 13-year-old boy from East Sussex who fathered a child with a 15-year-old girl and sparked a debate about how to cut rates of teenage parenthood.

It advises: “Discussing your values with your teenagers will help them to form their own. Remember, though, that trying to convince them of what’s right and wrong may discourage them from being open.”

The leaflet suggests that parents should start the “big talk” with children as young as possible, before they pick up “misinformation” from their peers in adolescence. The best way to raise the topic may be while performing mundane tasks such as “washing the car . . . washing up, watching TV, etc”, it says.

The leaflet provides technical information on different forms of contraception, from condoms to implants, and will reignite the row over the government’s “value-free” approach to sex education.

Simon Calvert, deputy director of the Christian Institute, attacked the leaflet, saying: “The idea that the government is telling families not to pass on their values is outrageous.

“Preserving children’s innocence is a worthy goal. We would like to see more of that kind of language rather than this amoral approach where parents are encouraged to present their children with a smorgasbord of sexual activities and leave them to make up their own minds.”

Linda Blair, a clinical psychologist, said educating older children and teenagers about sex had to be a process of negotiation. “We do not know what is right and wrong; right and wrong is relative, although your child does need clear guidelines,” she said.

Hughes said the government “doesn’t bring up children but . . . it does have a role to play in supporting parents and giving them access to advice and information”.

Labour’s attempts to cut the rate of teenage pregnancy through education are showing signs of faltering. From 1998 to 2006, the under-18 conception rate fell by 12.9% to its lowest level since the mid-1980s. But last year it began to edge up again. New figures will be announced this week.

Jack Grimston http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article5780725.ece