The government's new law to make 'age appropriate' sex and relationship education compulsory in all schools in England from this year, is gaining support from the new age Asian parents. Children from the age of four are expected to be taught about healthy relationships in the classroom. In a written statement, the Government last year outlined its compulsory proposals for a new system for sex and relationship education from primary through to secondary school.
On Monday 25 February, MPs debated a petition urging the government to ensure parents can opt their child out of relationship and sex education. This debate was in response to the government’s plans to make sex and relationships curriculum from September 2019 compulsory for primary as well as secondary school children. The biological aspects of sex are covered in the compulsory science curriculum. But parents currently have the right to remove their child from ‘relationship’ lessons.
While many parents are uncomfortable talking about sex with children, a BBC report suggests that some parents feel their children should not be taught any sex or relationship education until they are at least 13. Some have also argued it has no place in school curriculum. But in this day and age of social media- Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, it is virtually impossible to protect children from sexual knowledge. 11 year olds today are suffering from mental health problems, due body shaming, bullying into taking nude pictures and pornography, online grooming.
However Asian parents are found welcoming the decision as they think it is good to start sex and relationship lessons as soon as possible. Deb Ghosh, a mother of two young children from West London told Asian Voice, “I think it's a fantastic idea to make the education compulsory. Kids need to learn what a mutually respectful relationship looks like. Sex needs to be demystified, de-tabooed. Pornography, cyber bullying, body shaming- a lot of this comes from shame, guilt and fear of our own bodies and misunderstanding what a healthy sexual expression is. A body is just a body. Sex is just sex. It's not a conquest or a bargaining tool or something intrinsically valuable. The sooner kids learn that, the better.”
Another mother of two from Blackheath in South London told the newsweekly, “I think it’s a sensible move to introduce sex education at a younger age at schools. Issues around consent and being aware of what isn’t appropriate are ones they need to be aware of - and all kids should have the opportunity to discuss this as well as over time issues around gender, sexuality, safety and other issues. I think the more such discussions happen in open forums the more the willingness of children to accept and respect difference and also feel comfortable discussing these issues at home with us. Of course it has to be done in a sensible way and it’s all in the detail and implementation. But overall it’s an idea I support.”
But a mum of two from West London, Loveena Tandon, does not think this is a good idea. She said, “I don’t agree with making it compulsory. It’s too early to complicate the minds of the young. It’s supposed to be age appropriate but the question is what is it going to be? Yes kids start periods early, their abuse starts early. The way is to make them aware of sensitivity of their private parts - how none should touch them - scream if anyone does and tell some you trust about it. All this we already do. But it does not merit telling them. Children have curious minds and it can go anywhere. It can lead to exploring on their own too.”
Smriti Ray, from North London with a young boy added, “I welcome the idea. I am sure a 4 year old will not be told about pornography. But educating children about sex and relationship from childhood is a good idea. It opens their mind up and tells about the threats they may face growing up. Otherwise perceiving of sex in their own way does more harm than good.”