The British government has made sex education mandatory for all schools in England in an effort to curb its high teen pregnancy rate. About 39,000 girls under 18 became pregnant in 2006 — the highest rate in western Europe.
Children as young as five will receive lessons on topics such as body parts and reproduction, and subjects will become more sophisticated as children grow older. The mandate has sparked anger, and some have condemned the new curriculum.
The “Catholic Commentary” blog from England outlines questions and concerns about the program, including its implementation into religious schools and its inclusion of marriage as a matter for discussion.
The “Hello Blog,” based in Wales, touts the new curriculum and its potential for reducing teen pregnancy.
Blogger “Solomon Hezekiah” argues that sex education is fighting fire with fire.
An editorial at The Times Online calls the law harmful, pointing out that children mature at different ages and teachers vary in their teaching style and moral attitudes.
“Stuart Wood” expresses anger that there was no public debate or consultation before the government’s decision.
The “WhyNotSmile” blog finds the controversy excessive and asks, “Is there anything more likely to put teenagers off sex than putting them in a classroom and talking about it?”
In the U.S., mandatory sex education has become an issue in the presidential race.
“Learning about sex before learning to read?,” asks one advertisement from John McCain that references Barack Obama’s vote for a 2003 bill that would have expanded age-appropriate sex education in Illinois classrooms had it passed.