Blaise Tapp: Sex education update for today’s world

IN THE CLASSROOM: School children will be given relationship classes.
IN THE CLASSROOM: School children will be given relationship classes.
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There are some jobs that no parent relishes - changing nappies and mopping up bodily fluids being the obvious frontrunners.

But I would also wager our coveted jumbo bottle of Calpol that there is not a single sensible human being out there who has ever enjoyed explaining the ‘Birds and the Bees’ to their offspring. Not one.

It doesn’t matter how well educated or articulate you are, running through the facts of life with your wide eyed innocent cherubs is nearly always a disaster because, unless you are television’s most famous clever person, Professor Robert Winston, the words needed are very difficult to find.

As somebody who is on a constant quest to improve my mediocre parenting skills I have shared countless stories and disasters with many friends but the funniest tales tend to centre around ‘that conversation’.

What I have learned is that, like parenting in general, there is no right way of dealing with this delicate topic and how it handled is the absolute prerogative of parents. I know mums and dads who have told their four and five year olds about special cuddles, which can prove to be a problem when little people are ordered to give their great aunt Hilda a hug goodbye.

Telling our eldest was pretty straightforward - Mrs Tapp did it while I was doing the dishes but I have been told that it will be my turn once our little lad has a better understanding of the world. Gender equality in its purest form you might argue. There are some grandparents who argue that youngsters are exposed to the realities of the world far too soon but the we live in a time when information is everywhere, meaning parents feel they have little choice but to have those difficult conversations earlier than they would’ve perhaps liked.

This sea change in society’s approach on how to deal with sex has prompted the Government to get involved and the Department of Education is now preparing to introduce relationship classes which will touch upon issues of consent.

Older pupils in secondary schools will study the laws on sexual assault, consent, grooming and domestic abuse among other things while younger children in primary schools will be taught about respecting and enforcing boundaries. While children at primary schools are already taught the basics, the Government wants to update the current format for the first time in 20 years.

It has been reported that ministers are keen to make these lessons more relevant to a society where online pornography and sexting are a real threat to our youngsters and one where, over a four year period, there were 30,000 reports of children sexually assaulting their peers.

When you consider these 21st Century threats then it is very difficult to criticise our political leaders for wanting to adapt the sex education that is taught in our classrooms. Undoubtedly there will permanently angry people, much like those who regularly participate in radio phone-ins, who will say that it is the job of parents to tackle subjects such as consent and online safety.

These people bang on about the Nanny State and demand that our politicians focus on sorting out Brexit. I would say that parents need all the help they can get these days, especially when the most difficult subject of all has been complicated by technology and progress.