Parents lose right of withdrawal of their children from Sex and Relationship Education once they reach 15.

(210 Posts)
Thandeka Thu 05-Nov-09 18:05:57

Please discuss your reactions to this news as I would be very interested to read them.

Personally I think this is a great thing but then I am biased as I work in young people's sexual health.

P.S "Parental opt out" is a much better word sorry as "withdrawal isn't necessarily a good word to use in relation to sex ed- hehe!

Well I think by 15 a person should be able to make their own decisions!

posieparker Thu 05-Nov-09 18:08:22

Muslim council thinks it's terrible, ffs, whereas Catholic and CofE are fine with this.

Why am I not surprised?

abbierhodes Thu 05-Nov-09 18:09:11

I don't think parents should have the right to withdraw their kids at any age. If you wanted to withdraw a 15 year old I'd consider you to have serious issues that I should not be passed on to your children.

bumpsoon Thu 05-Nov-09 18:09:17

Fantastic news ! most of my friends started having sex around the 14 year old mark ,so actually i think it should be younger

LaurieScaryCake Thu 05-Nov-09 18:11:38

There was a huge debate on sexual health/relationship/sex educating in school a few months ago. The only people who disagreed had no idea how PSHE was presented to children.

I think the way schools do it is mostly fantastic, a lot more emphasis on self-respect, self-esteem, peer pressure now.

I can't really understand why any parent would want to prevent their teenage child learning about sex education

i agree with abbierhodes, they shouldnt be allowed to withdraw their kids at any age.

15 is probably a bit late for most kids nowadays

Thandeka Thu 05-Nov-09 18:14:18

Yup I do too- but guess a compromise had to be made.

I imagine parents still won't be able to opt out of the SRE within the science national curriculum (existing legislation) which covers reproduction, puberty (and depending on the exam board- for Key Stage 4- hormonal control of fertility)

Did you know that existing legislation means parents can pull a person aged 16-18 who is in fulltime education in school- ie. 6th form (not FE) out of SRE lessons. This technically contravenes children's rights legislation- but no cases came of it as young people aged 16-18 don't really have sex ed to be withdrawn from!

An interesting one in terms of whether schools will make adequate provision for sex education in Y11 (15-16 year olds) because of this considering it is also GCSE year and schools are so pressured.

PixiNanny Thu 05-Nov-09 18:16:29

Should be younger. I'm 20 and over a half of my female peers now have children. Many of those whilst I was in college. Religion has nothing to do with sex; kids from religious families will have sex so religious schools cannot use it as an excuse not to teach it.

Kids are better off having the facts about it at a younger age, rather than listening to peer's stories about everything regarding sex. I remember not getting facts until I was 13. Many of my peers had started having sex by that point and were not using protection because they'd heard that withdrawal was an effective method of contracepion, etc.

do they teach anything in sex and relationship education about gay relationships and any kids that might be struggling with that? to encourage more acceptance and understanding etc

Thandeka Thu 05-Nov-09 18:22:24

Yup absolutely they do. Supporting teachers in challenging homophobia is one of the biggest parts of my work.

It is now also enshrined in the PSHE curriculum and in teachers rights and responsibilities so hopefully will make significant differences to lives of LGB young people in schools.

wahwah Thu 05-Nov-09 18:29:26

Why would anyone even want to withdraw their children from these lessons?

I have an idea that it may be on religious grounds, because let's face it the idea of hell and damnation is far scarier!

GuyFawkesIsMyLoveSlave Thu 05-Nov-09 18:32:26

It doesn't, of course, mean that "all pupils will get at least one year of sex and relationship education before their 16th birthday". A child who leaves school at the end of Y11 and has a summer birthday will be able to have his/her parent veto it entirely.

edam Thu 05-Nov-09 18:33:10

Good, and agree with everyone the opt-out should be ended entirely. (Although obv. parents should be able to raise concerns if they aren't comfortable with the particular content of any particular lesson.)

woowa Thu 05-Nov-09 18:37:13

I think that parents have the responsibility for the education of their children, not the state. That means parents should choose what their children are taught, not the state.

If parents choose to delegate their responsibility to schools, that's totally fine and normal, but if parents prefer to teach their children about sex and relationships at home, where's the harm in that? Every person is biased on this issue, whether christian, muslim, jew, atheist, whatever - we all have a view on what is normal, so perhaps if a parent has one particular view and disagrees strongly with the view of the teacher/curriculum, they have a right to express this, don't they? And bring their own children up as they see best, and not as the state thinks is best?

Thandeka Thu 05-Nov-09 18:47:47

I absolutely agree with you woowa but the trouble with Sex ed is that it is one of those excruciating topics that young people just don't want their parents to teach them. Yes the basic facts of life and about relationships rights and responsibility's, but about the mechanics of sex and accessing contraception etc. many young people would rather die than talk to their parents about this stuff and the only other safe place for young people to access the information is schools. The internet isn't safe (although ruthinking website is a good place to start) and peers often have misinformation so schools can be an excellent source of support and information about sex and relationships and the content of the curriculum is age appropriate and really fab. Honest!

cory Thu 05-Nov-09 18:54:23

but woowa- in that case, why should that involve only sex education?

if I was a holocaust denier, should I be able to insist on withdrawing my child from history lessons?

if I was a creationist, should I be able to insist that my child was withdrawn from any lessons that mentioned dinosaurs?

when you sign your child up for a school, you sign them up for an educational packet

that does not in any way prevent the parent from expressing their own views at home to the child

if you don't approve of it, there is always the option of home educating

or why is sex education an infringement of parents' rights in a way that biology lessons and history lessons are not?

piscesmoon Thu 05-Nov-09 18:57:34

I think it is a good thing-at 15yrs a young person should be able to choose for themselves.

whooshspicemonster Thu 05-Nov-09 18:58:40

If parents were capable of teaching their children about sex education properly, I doubt we'd have the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in Europe.

I don't think parents should ever be able to withdraw their children from Sex Ed - after all it's the State that picks up the tab when it all goes wrong.

choufleur Thu 05-Nov-09 19:03:33

According to ed balls earlier on the radio currently only something like 4 in every 10,000 children are withdrawn from sex ed. The change is hardly going to affect a lot of children if that figure is correct.

TheFallenMadonna Thu 05-Nov-09 19:06:08

Wow. We had two in year 9 last year in our school alone. I wonder where his figures were from?

GunpowderTreasonAndDragons Thu 05-Nov-09 19:06:27

Quite right too.

I do think parents should retain the right to opt out at primary level though.

piscesmoon Thu 05-Nov-09 19:18:29

Even if you withdraw them at Primary age you then have to allow for the fact that they get it second hand through their friends-I wouldn't find that at all desirable. (You have no control at all about what other DCs say to them).

woowa Thu 05-Nov-09 19:36:48

don't disagree thandeka and cory and I DO think we should have the right to withdraw from things we really disagree on - probably not a popular opinion.

To put my view in context, neither my husband or I had sex before we were married. We weren't taught the mechanics of sex and we've been fine - how did people manage before sex education to work this out?

We weren't at risk of STIs or unwanted pregnancy, and we didn't need contraceptive advice (though we DID receive teaching on these at school, which is fine). The issue I thus have with sex ed at school is that it ddoesn't advocate or recommend our personal life choices - abstinence is not one of the most talked about choices in the UK. So should we be forced, when the time comes to have our children be taught about sex without any mention of what we feel, with the benefit of our own personal experience, to be the best option for them?

I hope that DH and I will always be open with them about sex and relationships, and that they will learn from us rather than teachers.

posieparker Thu 05-Nov-09 19:44:19

FFS the point of Sex-ed is that most parents who would choose to withdraw would be the ones who are unlikely to face the reality that their child may be having sex or soon to be.

Abstinence and self respect can go hand in hand with sex ed but if your child is indoctrinated that abstinence is best and they want to have sex then the sex ed at home will not stop chlamydia.

herbietea Thu 05-Nov-09 19:47:25

Message withdrawn

piscesmoon Fri 06-Nov-09 08:32:02

'I hope that DH and I will always be open with them about sex and relationships, and that they will learn from us rather than teachers.'

Why not both and then open discussion? I only caught the end of a BBC breakfast discussion but a (very sensible IMO)muslim girl was saying that while she got her values from home she was interested in hearing other views and have discussions on the subject.
If a 15yr old is old enough to have a baby, and just months off legally having sex, I would have thought that it could be assumed that they have their own powers of reasoning. Many people seem to assume that DCs, even practically adult ones,are blank canvasses and will blindly follow whatever is said to them. It seems to me to be rather like the early church not wanting the ordinary man to be literate so that the priest could give only their interpretation.

A parent is responsible for sex education but I can't see the harm in it also coming from elsewhere and then having open discussion. So many parents seem to think that their DC must think what the parent wants them to think. It seems really odd to me when so many people on these threads are at odds with their own parents!

If you set a good example your DC will most likely have the same values and open discussion can only be healthy IMO.

If you withdraw your DC from sex education you must be living in cloud cuckoo land if you think that the content doesn't get passed on from those who were there! I would much rather it was first hand, through a teacher who is trying to make a good job of it, rather than be drip fed bits through the interpretation of a friend!

cory Fri 06-Nov-09 08:37:23

Pisces puts it so much better than me. If you withdraw your 15yo from sex education, they will miss out on the balanced approach of the teacher (which ime is not about teaching young people to have sex), but will still be stuck with the gossip of their teen friends, which I suspect is far less what you want them to hear.

DuelingFanjo Fri 06-Nov-09 08:40:11

you can still have self-respect and high self esteem and have sex at a young age though, right? This isn't about stoping teens from having sex but more about educating them to have it safely.

should be younger IMO
if you get to 15 with knowledge only from playground rumours you have been failed

completely agree piscesmoon.

if a parent wants to talk to the children themselves thats fine, but this should be done as well as sex ed not instead of.

leaving it up to parents alone to teach this means that the opinions their dc's are getting could be bias and the parents could be passing on their own prejudices.

sherby Fri 06-Nov-09 08:44:13

15y old far too late IMO and IME.

You would have been preaching to the choir at that age in our school

sarah293 Fri 06-Nov-09 08:50:10

Message withdrawn

piscesmoon Fri 06-Nov-09 09:02:27

I agree with the muslim girl that I mentioned,I like to hear all opinions. It is one of the reasons that I like mumsnet. I tend to have friends who think in a very similar way and so it is refreshing to have completely opposite opinions. I think a lot of them are batty! They are probably not going to influence me, or change me, but it is always interesting. Why should 15 yr olds be any different? If you have done a good job in bringing up your DC you should have confidence in their maturity. I would be very worried about mine if I was frightened that the school might tell them something that 'mummy doesn't want them to think'!
I hope that I have brought them up to be free thinkers and not to follow the herd.(If I haven't 15 is too old to bolt the stable door!)

ParanoidAtAllTimes Fri 06-Nov-09 09:21:30

It's definately a good thing but I I think it should be younger, eg start of secondary school. Each generation seems to start having sex younger and younger, and 15 could well be too late for many teenagers.

theyoungvisiter Fri 06-Nov-09 09:29:56

I think it's a very good thing and would support the government in lowering the age further.

It cannot possibly be right that you can have sex at 16 yet not be allowed to learn about methods of contraception.

I also agree with Riven that if you want the state to educate your child you can't pick and choose from the curriculum like this. Home educate if you feel so strongly. Faith schools are also allowed to teach contraception in the context of their faith, so there is still a LOT of leeway IMO.

I think that 15 is not early enough by a long shot.

Are they hoping to reduce the age gradully? Are they worried that if they start at a lower age people will throw hissy fits? Are they easing people in?

I think that anyone wanting to opt out at this age is crazy and this needs doing long before 15.

theyoungvisiter Fri 06-Nov-09 09:34:02

Also, I think that any faith or way of life that relies on ignorance to propagate its message, is failing.

It should be the strength of your message that wins out, not the fact of its being the ONLY message available to your children.

Thandeka Fri 06-Nov-09 10:16:30

Just to clarify Sex Education starts at primary school and continues all the way through in an age appropriate fashion. From Sept 2010 Parents can opt out of any sex ed (except the science national curriculum) up to age 15. they are not saying they will only teach Sex ed at 15 as that is far too late but for those who have maybe been withdrawn previously they will then have an opportunity to do some sex ed in their final year at school.

SolidGoldBangers Fri 06-Nov-09 10:24:58

Abstinence-based programmes DO NOT WORK. Because abstinence-based sex education is put together by dysfunctional creeps who have an extremely unhealthy and usually mysogynistic attitude towards sex. Sensible, practical sex education, which emphasies that you should only have sex when you want to and feel ready, that here are ways to prevent unplanned pregnancy and disease, and most importantly that sex is enjoyable and if one of the people having sex is not enjoying it then it needs to stop, tends to make young people think things through and delay sex till they feel ready. Whereas peddling romantic ignorance and bullshit means that when they get a bit of a hormone surge they consider themselves 'in love', don;t carry condoms because that would indicate that they;ve had impure thoughts, then when they have sex without protection they can tell themselves that they got carried away by True Love...
Ignorance is nothing to be proud of, for all the fuckwits call it 'innocence'.

seeker Fri 06-Nov-09 10:29:26

I think that sex and relationship education should be compulsory - in my experience the children whose parents withdraw them from these lessons are the children who need good, solid, fact based education the most.

cory Fri 06-Nov-09 10:46:50

In my school, the only teen who ever got pregnant was the dd of the Baptist pastor, probably the only child in the school who was firmly brought up with the Abstinence message. The rest of us had clearly paid attention in Sex Education.

And no, sex education in those days was not You Must Have Early Sex. And sex education these days is not You Must Have Early Sex.

In my school, we also had classes on child development- which did not seem terribly relevant then, but which have stood me in good stead when rearing my own children 20 years later.

Thandeka, I mean I think it should be mandatory from much younger.

HappyMummyOfOne Fri 06-Nov-09 11:22:01

I think its definitely a good idea. We have one of the worse teen pregnancy rates in the world so clearly something needs to be done. I'm not naive enough to believe its all down to the lack of sex ed and benefits etc play a part as well but some may be donw to this.

Its very sad that so many children are having sex so young instead of waiting to be in stable relationships - at least over the legal age.

piscesmoon Fri 06-Nov-09 11:42:25

' in my experience the children whose parents withdraw them from these lessons are the children who need good, solid, fact based education the most.'

I would agree-they are often the parents who have to have control of their DCs, what they often don't realise is that the DC has often paid lip service for years, as the easy way, and they have an entirely secret life about which the parent knows nothing.
They will get it all from friends and there is nothing the parent can do to stop it.(Other than HE and make sure that the DC never comes into contact with anyone not of the parent's choosing, and even then they can't be sure.)
If you discuss it at home and lead by example, then I would have thought that even if something was said at school that you disagree with it would at least be up for an airing, with chance to put another view.
If you withdraw them, because they are your DCs and only you are allowed to influence their thinking, then they will get it all second hand, through their friends and they won't tell the parent anything.
By the age of 15yrs you should be treating your DCs views with respect, even if they differ from yours.
Communication is the most important thing-if
you try and cut off outside communication you will most likely tend to cut off all communication.

Miggsie Fri 06-Nov-09 11:42:29

Yes, being informed should happen at a young age...my friend had an unexpected pregnancy with a very new boyfriend and she said "you know, it CAN happen the first time you do it with someone!" as if this was news to me.
She really believed it never happened the first time you slept with a man and did not use contraception the first time.

She was 33 at the time, had had many boyfriends and also a short marriage.

I can only assume the reason she had not been pregnant before this was pure luck.

Morloth Fri 06-Nov-09 11:59:32

I don't see how the school teaching about the mechanics and multiple relationship options that people get up to, stops me from teaching my kids my moral stance on sex.

They are not mutually exclusive and should complement each other.

gorionine Fri 06-Nov-09 12:04:18

By posieparker Thu 05-Nov-09 18:08:22
""Muslim council thinks it's terrible, ffs, whereas Catholic and CofE are fine with this.""

Maybe that is not because Muslim are against sex education as a biology topic IYSWIM but are opposed to it as it is not taking in consideration something that Muslims see as part of such education which is : no sex before marriage (please note I did not say "no sex education" before mariage) as a way of making sure that you have children you can raise without too much assistance (I am not talking money but maturity).

The problem is not about sex education being somethiong "taboo". It is really with the fact that Muslims consider it is the jobs of the parents to educate their children according to not only the physical things that sex entails but the more spiritual or moral side that they doubt the school will spend too much time on. BTW this is my interpretation of it , not an official explanation from the British Muslim Council or equivalent organisation.

By whooshspicemonster Thu 05-Nov-09 18:58:40
"If parents were capable of teaching their children about sex education properly, I doubt we'd have the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in Europe."

I know these two posts are not conected but I just thought it would be interesting to know how many of these teenage pregnancies involved Muslim girls. My guess is there aren't that common (talking about here in the uk, not world wide of course)

By woowa Thu 05-Nov-09 18:37:13
"I think that parents have the responsibility for the education of their children, not the state. That means parents should choose what their children are taught, not the state." I totally agree with that statment.

slug Fri 06-Nov-09 12:20:01

The girls I taught were mainly muslim. In my 12 years there I encountered an awful lot of very abrupt marriages and a fair few concealed pregnancies and knoew of several abortions. Muslim girls and boys get up to the same things as other teenagers. They just have more incentive to toe the parental line.

cory Fri 06-Nov-09 12:20:38

gorionine Fri 06-Nov-09 12:04:18

"By woowa Thu 05-Nov-09 18:37:13
"I think that parents have the responsibility for the education of their children, not the state. That means parents should choose what their children are taught, not the state." I totally agree with that statment."

gorionine, every parent can make that choice by home educating.

But if you choose to put your child in a school with 29 other children in the same class, and maybe 100 children in the same year group- how can you possibly expect the teacher to teach every one of those children exactly what each one of their parents wants them to learn ("Jason's Mum wants him to learn about dinosaurs, but not evolution, Kylie's Mum doesn't want dinosaurs at all, Alysha's parents are strict darwinists" and so on and so forth. "Kyle's Dad is against pre-marital sex and doesn't want Kyle to know some people do it, Sarah's Mum thinks sex is a gift from God but contraception is the work of the devil, Edward's Mum is happy with heterosexual sex education but doesn't want homosexuality mentioned, Katie's Mum wants the other children to be taught to be tolerant towards lesbians couples". ) The teacher would either have to teach 30 separate lessons, or be constantly shunting children in and out of the classroom.

posieparker Fri 06-Nov-09 12:21:26

I would imagine teenage pregnancies are not so common amoungst Muslim girls and would be covered up by a very ashamed family. But I wouldn't like to assume that the rate of teen parents is so low for Muslim boys. I know that some of the same girls who are guarded from sex ed and taught about no sex before marriage and nothing about STIs can be the same girls shipped off at 15 to marry.

Religion plays no part in ensuring our teens are sexually safe.

The state has a duty to ensure all children are safe, if parents want to ensure their child has a particular morality or religious code about sex then it is up to them to teach it alongside the informative stuff at school.

I can't quite believe anyone would be ignorant to think that parental control is more important than the safety of all.

theyoungvisiter Fri 06-Nov-09 12:31:43

"Maybe that is not because Muslim are against sex education as a biology topic IYSWIM but are opposed to it as it is not taking in consideration something that Muslims see as part of such education which is : no sex before marriage"

But faith schools can teach the topic in context with their own faith, so the lesson could say "we believe in no sex before marriage but here are the biological facts about how humans reproduce, oh and by the way, did we mention that this should be within marriage?"

gorionine Fri 06-Nov-09 12:46:00

"gorionine, every parent can make that choice by home educating." Well no, as I think Iam prefectly able to teach my childern about sex education, but not other subjects so I could not HE my children.

"" Religion plays no part in ensuring our teens are sexually safe."" I think you are partly right posieparker. I just pointed that out because of the "the Muslim council is against it" comment (one of the very first posts) that made it sound like the problem of teen pregnancies in UK was mainly due to the fact that the Muslim council was against compulsory sex education in school. (I extapolated a bit thoughsmile

I do not think it is about parental controle as opposed to safety, it is parental control in a bid to actually make it safer.

I admit I would be reluctant for my Dcs (girls & boys) to learn that they should be aloud to have sex regardless of the fact they are not mature enough or in an a relationship that is commited and meant to last (not all commitment last forever I know, but at least, the initial intention is to stand by eachother IYSWIM) and that the morning after pill or abotions are no big deal and could be performed without your parents being involved at all.

I would like my Dcs to be taught that sexual relashionship are a beautiful part of the life of a couple, that sex is pleasurable, and not only a way to have babies but that the risk of being pregnant can only happen if you actually do have sex. I would like them to learn that having sex is a responsability that will have consequnces for the rest of their life wether you are actually having a baby or go through the abortion route and that there is no such thing a "quick fix".

theyoungvisiter Fri 06-Nov-09 12:56:48

Gorione: "I would like my Dcs to be taught that sexual relashionship are a beautiful part of the life of a couple, that sex is pleasurable, and not only a way to have babies but that the risk of being pregnant can only happen if you actually do have sex. I would like them to learn that having sex is a responsability that will have consequnces for the rest of their life wether you are actually having a baby or go through the abortion route and that there is no such thing a "quick fix"."

I absolutely agree with your last paragraph but I can't see how factual information from the school interferes with or alters your right to teach this at all. If anything, it's likely to back it up.

IMO your line about "the morning after pill or abotions are no big deal and could be performed without your parents being involved at all" is utter crap. they may get this information from their peers but absolutely NOT from a school, certainly this was NEVER the line when I did sex ed at school, not so long ago.

theyoungvisiter Fri 06-Nov-09 12:58:58

I meant that the "no big deal" bit is crap. The bit about it being potentially possible not to involve parents is true, but why do you need to protect them from this knowledge? As I say, they will get that information from their peers anyway, very likely. Far better to receive the facts calmly with the rest of their age-group, then be yanked out of classes and left to hear about the lesson afterwards in a garbled version from their mates.

littleducks Fri 06-Nov-09 13:13:10

where is the muslim council quote? i cant see it in article and isnt in musclim council of britain press releases?

gorionine Fri 06-Nov-09 13:22:46

Never in my life have I been so happy to be wrong!smile

Still, I would rather not take the risk if I am given a choice. I know that it won't be said in so many words "the morning after pill or abotions are no big deal and could be performed without your parents being involved at all", but I do not think they are going to insist as much as I would like on all the implications of these two options. I might be very wrong but I am assuming that if one of my Dcs said, during a sex education lesson, "My mum thinks that sex before mariage is not such a good idea" the comment they might get from a teacher would not be "She is right you know" but more on the "Why, it is such a natural part of life...."lines. Yes I am probably paranoid but hey that is just how I feel.

I am not lobbying for a total ban of sex education in schools but anything compulsory (that involves morals, not math or English) does worry me.

gorionine Fri 06-Nov-09 13:29:05

littleduck, it is not a quote from the Muslim Council of Britain, it is copied and pasted from this post :

By posieparker Thu 05-Nov-09 18:08:22
""Muslim council thinks it's terrible, ffs, whereas Catholic and CofE are fine with this.""

gorionine Fri 06-Nov-09 13:31:18

Oh and littleducks, thanks for the link, I will bookmarkk it!

littleducks Fri 06-Nov-09 13:32:27

sorry, i realise that, i wanted to know where posieparker got that info from and what was actually said and by whom as we were all discussing it

piscesmoon Fri 06-Nov-09 13:37:00

I wouldn't expect the teacher to have either of those 2 responses gorionine. I would hope that they would be stresssing that everyone has their own view and there is no need to be pressurised into anything at all that you don't want to do. I would have thought that the value was in hearing all views, rather than just the ones of the parent, and having open discussion. DCs, even much younger than 15yrs, have discerning minds-they question. My DSs are remarkably sensible-I would think that I had done a very bad job if my 15yr old was to say 'it must be right because Miss XXXX say so'! Some people seem to be paranoid that one word from someone other than themselves is going to brainwash their DC! I would have thought that one great value was that the DC would be able to ask questions that they might not like to put to a parent. The 2 should complement each other, as a home school partnership.

cory Fri 06-Nov-09 13:38:05

orionine Fri 06-Nov-09 13:22:46

"I might be very wrong but I am assuming that if one of my Dcs said, during a sex education lesson, "My mum thinks that sex before mariage is not such a good idea" the comment they might get from a teacher would not be "She is right you know" but more on the "Why, it is such a natural part of life...."lines."

I would be very surprised if the teacher answered with either of those lines tbh. They are not there to promote pre-marital sex, you know. Any more than they are there to promote total abstinence, or indeed anything else.

What the teacher is almost certainly going to say is, 'people have different takes on this and you will each one of you have to make up your own minds as to what you think is right. I can't do that for you. Hopefully these lessons will give you enough confidence never to let yourself be pressurised into sex if you don't want it. But if you do have sex - these are some sensible precautions....'

I would also want the teacher to point out that marriage is not in itself a protection again STDs (unless you can be absolutely certain that your intended is a virgin- many young married people have slipped up on that one).

Though tbh (since we are discussing older children here) if I were the teacher, I would be somewhat taken aback by a 16yo who said 'my mum thinks' rather than 'I think'. These are people approaching adulthood, surely they should be starting to think for themselves?

piscesmoon Fri 06-Nov-09 13:41:58

' I would be somewhat taken aback by a 16yo who said 'my mum thinks' rather than 'I think'. These are people approaching adulthood, surely they should be starting to think for themselves?

I thought that too cory, it is the sort of thing that is common with the infant age DC but they have largly grown out of by 11yrs.

gorionine Fri 06-Nov-09 13:43:08

You are right Cory, When I pictured my children I did picture them at "today's age blush My comment appears silly even to me now grin

But I still do not like the compulsory bit.

MissM Fri 06-Nov-09 13:51:04

Just to clarify, 'sex and relationships education' (to give it it's full and correct name) is not about teaching children and young people how to have sex (as the Daily Mail would love us to believe). Not is it telling young people to have sex. At primary age it focuses on relationships (as in, mum, dad, carer, brother, sister, lady next door, friend of granny's....etc), and later on on the changes at puberty. At secondary it looks at reltionships, including sexual reltionships, STIs, sexuality, emotions, different forms of contraception, where to get advice... That is a very truncated list.

What many people don't realise is that the 'mechanics' of sex are taught (and always have been) within the science curriculum, and parents have never been allowed to withdraw their kids from that. So if parents are objecting to the mechanics, then thinking that their kids won't learn how to do it if they take them out of PSHE is utterly mistaken. What their kids won't be learning about is how to form healthy, respectful relationships, how to respect others, how to make the right choices and how to limit risk to one's health.

Sermon over.

piscesmoon Fri 06-Nov-09 13:54:16

The bottom line to me seems to be -would you rather they were in with everyone else with the teacher getting a balanced view, or do you want them to have the one sided regurgitated version given afterwards by friends? Make no mistake-even if they don't ask what they missed- someone will make it their business to tell them! I know which I prefer.
I am also heavily of the opinion that the ones withdraw by the parent are the very ones who would benefit most from attending.

scarletlilybug Fri 06-Nov-09 14:58:27

To me, the bottom line is who has the right to decide on who a child should be brought up and whose morals and views are sovereign - the family's or the State's?

And to play devil's advocate here... imagine a new government were elected in the future with a very different set of values. Would you be just as happy for children to be taught (for example) that homosexuality is wrong or - for that matter - that sex outside marriage is always wrong? In other words, how would you feel if your children were indoctrinated with views very different from your own, but you had no option to withdraw them from those lessons. It's easy to say that sex education should be compulsory if you basically agree with what is taught and how it is taught... but what if you felt differently? Would you still be so keen to let the state impose its views?

To me, this whole issue isn't about sex education, but about parental rights versus State rights.

sarah293 Fri 06-Nov-09 15:14:49

Message withdrawn

MillyMollyMoo Fri 06-Nov-09 15:44:01

See this is why I love private education they assume that you the parent will actually bring up and parent your child and they the school keep their noses out of what doesn't concern them and just get on with the business of educating them.
I am sick to death of a few bloody stupid parents who cannot be bothered to raise their children leading to the state invervening on so many levels that are just none of their business and my kids sex life is one of them.

cory Fri 06-Nov-09 15:58:43

that's where we differ, Milly Molly

to me, learning about human reproduction is no different from any other aspect of learning- as much the concern of dd's school as her French verbs and her knowledge of history

it does not mean that I will also expect to have an input in all of those

and in the end it will her job - not the school's, not mine- to draw any moral conclusions from her education

but that applies to history as much as to sex education- both have a moral dimension as far as I can see; but in neither case does the school's emphasis lie on the moral side of things

cory Fri 06-Nov-09 16:02:57

As it so happens I disagree very strongly with many aspects of history teaching in British schools. In many ways, it is still very much taught from a "heroic" standpoint, with the basic assumption that the world will have gained every time Britain or the British Empire came out top, and that anyone who worked on this is, by definition, a hero.

My reaction has not been to withdraw my children from history lessons, but to encourage them to develop an interest of their own in history and to read voraciously. I have also frankly declared my own opinions, but encouraged them to do any reading they need to test if my viewpoint is valid.

MillyMollyMoo Fri 06-Nov-09 16:52:46

Human reproduction I have no issue whatsoever with, it's the states opinion which envitably will be presented as fact.
I remember teachers having an agenda in history as much as politics and therefore one I think is safe in the assumption that teachers who tend to be rather liberal in their beliefs will apply that to sex education.
As 16 is the age of consent I would also like the assumption be that my kids aren't doing anything before that age not acceptance that it's envitable from their teachers and peers.

piscesmoon Fri 06-Nov-09 17:55:54

Why on earth should teachers assume that a DC is sexually active before they are 16yrs because they go to sex education lessons? There will be a huge range in any class-you couldn't possibly make assumptions. One size doesn't suit all- DCs will make up their own minds.
I don't know why people insist on thinking they are empty vessels for the parent or the state to fill! I would have thought that open discussion from all sorts of places was much healthier.
I would have been absolutely furious with my mother if she had withdrawn me from a lesson at the age of 15yrs when it was the norm to go-I don't think it would have done much for our relationship.
I appreciate that many of you are coming from the position of much younger DCs, but really-if your 15yr old isn't sensible and mature and able to hold a reasoned argument and make up their own mind- it is too late, I doubt whether they ever will- and less than 3 yrs later they will be out in the big wide world without you to control. They should have achieved self control by 15yrs-or you have failed as a parent IMO. They can cope with someone other than mother giving their opinion!

MillyMollyMoo Fri 06-Nov-09 18:00:01

"but really-if your 15yr old isn't sensible and mature and able to hold a reasoned argument and make up their own mind- it is too late, I doubt whether they ever will- and less than 3 yrs later they will be out in the big wide world without you to control. They should have achieved self control by 15yrs-or you have failed as a parent IMO."

I completely disagree with that statement and quite frankly mine will not be out in the world at 18, perhaps that's where people are going wrong and failing as parents, considering their job done after 18 years.

DuelingFanjo Fri 06-Nov-09 18:08:43

At 18 wouldn't you expect them to be either at University/College, travelling or working?

piscesmoon Fri 06-Nov-09 18:09:50

I am a parent for life MillyMollyMoo!!! My youngest is now 18yrs and of course he is out in the big wide world, he is at university over 200 miles from home. Am I supposed to keep him tied to my apron strings? I do not know what he is doing at this minute-I don't know where he will be going tonight or what time he will be in. He is an adult-my job has been to prepare him for that. Your DC can walk out of your door at 18 and go to Thailand-if they have the money you can't stop them!
I have 3 mature, sensible, emotionally well balanced DCs. They see me because they enjoy my company and we can chat about anything. I have led by example and they have the same values-I have not rammed them down their throats and stopped them listening to other views.
I don't call sending an 18 yr old off to university, going wrong, failing as a parent or considering my job done!

MillyMollyMoo Fri 06-Nov-09 18:14:53

I am hoping and praying they will be at University but not 200 miles away and certainly not get pissed in city centre's and bonking random men, I may be wishfully thinking but I'm rather hoping mine will come home every night to the same beds they'll sleep in tonight.

TheFallenMadonna Fri 06-Nov-09 18:22:50

Not really? You'll be encouraging your children to stay at home instead of going to the universtiy of their own choice?

piscesmoon Fri 06-Nov-09 18:23:46

How old are they now MMM? I think you may run into problems with that attitude.
My DS didn't go to get away from home-he went because he was passionate about the course he is doing and nowhere offered a better one. I could bet you money that he isn't getting pissed, it makes him sick fairly soon and so he is a very moderate drinker and I also doubt whether he is bonking random women-he is the serious commitment type. If he were determined to do both it is too late for me to control-he has, what I have aimed for from the start, self control. I still maintain that if he didn't have it by 15yrs it is too late. He isn't easily led-he does his own thing and I am proud of him.

cory Fri 06-Nov-09 18:24:02

MillyMollyMoo Fri 06-Nov-09 18:00:01

"I completely disagree with that statement and quite frankly mine will not be out in the world at 18"

So how do you propose to stop them if they decide that they want to go to university or take a job or do a training scheme at the other end of the country? And what reason have you to believe that your children will not be capable of behaving like responsible adults when they have reached the age of adulthood?

Are you really saying you would try to stop them from doing the degree they really wanted to, to enter the professions of their dream, just because you thought it important that they should still be sleeping in the same beds?

I am very thankful that my parents did not share your ideas, but concentrated on encouraging me to think for myself, with the result that I was ready to stand on my own feet once I reached adulthood.

piscesmoon Fri 06-Nov-09 18:26:33

I am a very meek and mild and easy going person but my mother would have had a huge rebellion on her hands if she hadn't treated me as an adult at 18yrs!

DuelingFanjo Fri 06-Nov-09 18:47:41

"but not 200 miles away and certainly not get pissed in city centre's and bonking random men, I may be wishfully thinking but I'm rather hoping mine will come home every night to the same beds they'll sleep in tonight"

blimey, really?
I guess there is every chance they will do that as it's so expensive to move out of home and into a hall of residence or student housing but what if the courses they want to do are far away?

When I left for Uni (the year before they scrapped grants) I chose the four furthest away ones because I actively wanted to live as far away from my parents as possible.

For what it's worth I didn't have sex with anyone at university! I was pretty straight in that respect and only lost my virginity a long time after I graduated.

Student life doesn't always mean promiscuous sex and to be honest if your kids are going to be promiscuous then they will probably start a lot earlier than 18.

MIFLAW Fri 06-Nov-09 19:08:13

I have got in comparatively late on this thread.

Frankly i was overjoyed by the headlines - it means that, for once, the State is standing up for what it believes is right instead of pandering to pressure groups who really have no palce intervening in public education.

No one should have the right to withdraw children from any part of the school curriculum on religious grounds. I think that parents who want to do so should home educate or put their children in (private) religious schools rather than interfere with the curriculum which is aimed at being of maximum use to the majority.

But then, as you know, I don't think religion has pa place in state education full stop.

theyoungvisiter Fri 06-Nov-09 19:13:19

MMM - shouldn't you be thinking of what's best for your DC in a larger sense? What if they want to do a specialised course that's only available in certain centres?

What if they want to go to Oxbridge?

What if they want to do foreign languages and study in an institution abroad?

What if they are offered a Rhodes scholarship and the chance of a lifetime to study across the world?

Besides which, part of going to university is learning to live alone in a controlled way - with support from your institution and regular visits home to stock up on home comforts.

I really hope you change your attitude before your DCs get much older because by encouraging them to stay so close to home, you might end up seriously limiting their emotional and academic development, as well as their career prospects.

It's a parent's job to give their DC the values and skills to deal with the world in a responsible way wherever they are. You shouldn't need to keep them 2 feet away to have confidence in their judgement.

piscesmoon Fri 06-Nov-09 19:14:18

Me too DuelingFanjo!-I went right through university without losing my virginity, but it was only because I didn't meet the right person. However, that was my choice, if I had wanted to be promiscuous it would have had nothing whatever to do with my mother!
I think it is much better that people work out their own morality etc in their teens-people with over controlling parents often have problems (serious ones in some cases) later in life.

MissM Fri 06-Nov-09 19:19:40

Pisces - perhaps your son is out bonking random women, as you say, you don't know. But at least with a decent sex education behind him (and obviously with a strong supportive mother wink) it is more likely that he will know the risks, hopefully take steps to minimise them, and not put himself in a compromising position!

theyoungvisiter Fri 06-Nov-09 19:23:31

I think that anyone who is afraid of sex education for their children

1) Has very little confidence in their own parenting, if they really believe a 30 minute lesson from a teacher will undo years of parenting.

2) Is incredibly naive about all the other sources of information their child will be exposed to.

juuule Fri 06-Nov-09 19:24:14

"but really-if your 15yr old isn't sensible and mature and able to hold a reasoned argument and make up their own mind- it is too late,"
" They should have achieved self control by 15yrs-or you have failed as a parent IMO."

I don't agree with these statements.
People develop at different rates. There are some immature 18yo never mind 15yo. It doesn't mean they are still going to be immature at 25y.

piscesmoon Fri 06-Nov-09 19:28:07

If he wants to bonk random women MissM I accept that I can't stop him! Neither can MillyMollyMoo-even with iron control they can find a way around it, if they want to. He is very like me and much too shy at 18yrs-but as you say it is very important that if he were to step right out of character- he has had a decent sex education. He also knows all sorts and all opinions-I am pleased that he doesn't feel the need to do it just to fit in. Lots of people at university do not spend their time drinking and bonking! They manage it without their mother supervising!

SolidGoldBangers Fri 06-Nov-09 19:35:14

TYV: Actually, most people who are frantic to prevent their DC learning about sex - or ever having it - are either sexually dysfunctional themselves (frequently messed up by too much superstition) or they have an unhealthily possessive attitude towards their DC's sexuality. Is there anything more revoltingly creepy than those Yank father-daughter pledge events?

piscesmoon Fri 06-Nov-09 19:35:58

There is always time to change juuule, but I would be very disappointed if mine hadn't developed self control and a certain amount of common sense by 15yrs. I would also be disappointed if they thought they had to follow the herd to fit in. I also think you should bear in mind that they can legally get married and have a DC within months of the proposed sex education lesson.
Theyoungvisitor has a good point-you parent from birth so you must have made a pretty poor job of it if you are frightened of a 30 min sex education lesson, or even a series of sex education lessons. I also think that people are very naive if you think your DC will be untouched by other information-they will get masses (often of a dubious nature)from friends. I would expect that any DCs withdrawn will get graphic explanations from the rest of the class!

juuule Fri 06-Nov-09 19:49:54

Maybe yours have self-control and a certain amount of common-sense. But that's not going to be true across the board.
While 16yo can legally get married surely that's to cover the more developmentally advanced 16yo or the more sexually active. That doesn't mean that all 16yo are ready or wanting to take those routes.
Some 15yo (even if it's a minority) might feel uncomfortable talking about private issues in an open classroom among their peers. That doesn't mean they don't ask questions at home. It doesn't mean they are not being informed by their parents/relatives/close friends/trusted people about relationships etc.
While I wouldn't withdraw my children I am very uneasy about making sre compulsory.

piscesmoon Fri 06-Nov-09 20:02:12

They only have it because I treat them as if they have it. I don't expect to control every aspect of their lives, including what they think. I wouldn't advise any 16yr old, however mature, to get married and I definitely wouldn't want them to have a DC. I expect many wouldn't feel comfortable asking a question or talking about private issues -I was about 26yrs before I could do it! However this was no reason to shield me from it, and you learn a lot from quietly listening and observing. We are not all extroverts. Lots of people can have an input-it doesn't have to be either/or. I mixed with all sorts- some were sexually active very early-I didn't feel that I needed to follow suit. It depends what you are comfortable with.
My mother didn't believe in sex before marriage, she has mellowed now that it is the norm but certainly not when I was 15yrs, but I do-I am not a clone of my mother-there is no reason for me to think the same.
I hate the idea that the parent must have control of their DCs thoughts-I think it is healthy to have lots of views, even if you disagree with them.

juuule Fri 06-Nov-09 20:14:26

And the ones who do ask questions and can find things out in other ways but feel uncomfortable talking about it in a group should they be able to opt out themselves?

theyoungvisiter Fri 06-Nov-09 20:20:13

Juules - surely the answer is for the teacher to take student sensitivities into account when teaching (which they should be doing anyway) not to allow students (or parents) to pick and choose from the curriculum.

Where does that end - allowing students to get out of PE because they feel uncomfortable running?

Allowing students of German origin to opt out of history classes because they feel uncomfortable discussing WW2?

Allowing creationists to opt out of geography because they don't want to learn about fossils and carbon dating?

Part of education is about stepping out of your comfort zone and finding out whether your beliefs stand up to scrutiny. I seriously doubt sex ed is going to involve forcing blushing students to discuss position of the fortnight. It strikes me some people have very odd/twisted ideas of what sex education involves. Did you all go to school in the 1950s?

The Times article on the issue today says that the Catholic church is not happy with this so it is not correct to state that it is only Islam that has expressed outrage.

juuule Fri 06-Nov-09 20:29:12

Running, geography, ww2, fossils and the like are not usually something that people consider to be a part of their private life, though, so I do think that that sex and relationships are a different matter.

No it might not be postion of the week that's discussed but there may be things that some students find uncomfortable in open discussion. After all, some do become uncomfortable during some biology lessons.

However, I do accept that I'm not sure what SRE lessons consist of (apart from snippets from my teens). I should probably ask them for more details. Or perhaps it would be an idea for schools to run workshops for parents to let them know just what is entailed. Perhaps that would put everyone's minds at ease.

You are quite right when you say that teachers should take their students sensitivities into account. But is that likely to happen given the numbers of students passing through the lessons each week?

MillyMollyMoo Fri 06-Nov-09 21:41:35

I'm not interested in iron control but I have seen families where the children attend the local university and do just as well as those who rack up thousands in debt living away from home. And those kids ended up with good degrees, good jobs and happily married.
Frankly with University course costs going through the roof the tradition of spending three years with your head down the loo vomiting alchol and legs in the air will be coming to an end I hope.
I used to process medical claims for overseas students and the most common claim was abortion.
If people think lack of sex education is the reason for our high teen pregnancy rates then I despair and cannot see them changing anytime soon.

piscesmoon Fri 06-Nov-09 21:51:16

What a depressing picture MillyMollyMoo-luckily not one I recognise. If you have such a poor view of teenagers I'm not surprised that you want them at home.

starkadder Fri 06-Nov-09 22:04:17

DH is a teacher and had to do PHSE with his students three years ago when we lived in London. He hated doing it.

He felt uncomfortable with a lot of the subjects, having received no training on them at all (he's a languages teacher). Plus, he said that there's a huge long list of topics to cover in PHSE and no-one cares which one you do, so he just avoided all the "difficult" ones (puberty, sex, etc) and instead did all his PHSE classes on "friends" and "peer pressure" and so on and so forth.

So, from his experience, it looks like how the national curriculum, at least as far as PHSE goes, is being applied fairly haphazardly.

MillyMollyMoo Fri 06-Nov-09 22:06:22

And that is what worries me teachers with their own embarrasment, hang ups and agenda's.

starkadder Fri 06-Nov-09 22:07:05

PS SGB what are the yank father daughter things? They sound ghastly. Link please!!

starkadder Fri 06-Nov-09 22:08:10

PPS MMM I didn't mean that my DH had hang ups or agendas. He was a bit embarrassed, but generally quite stable and nice.

MillyR Fri 06-Nov-09 22:09:56

I wouldn't remove my children from sex education, but I do worry about what the moral undertones of it are. There have been quite a few people on here going on about how terrible teenage pregnancy is.

I don't think there is anything wrong with teenage pregnancy and I would not be concerned if DD got pregnant as a teenager. I would not be happy if schools were presenting teenage pregnancy as a negative choice; they should try to be neutral but honest about what being a parent involves.

I hope that schools now promote a positive view of sex; when I was at school it was all about diseases you could catch.

starkadder Fri 06-Nov-09 22:10:52

Generally IS quite stable and nice, I mean, and was a bit embarrassed by teaching a subject he had no preparation or training for. Which I think is fair enough. I'm basically saying that it's not that nice of you to accuse him of having hang-ups or agendas.

Not sure what is going on with my grammar here. blush

cory Fri 06-Nov-09 22:25:18

juuule Fri 06-Nov-09 20:29:12
"Running, geography, ww2, fossils and the like are not usually something that people consider to be a part of their private life, though, so I do think that that sex and relationships are a different matter."

My evangelical friends definitely consider anything to do with the creation of the world to be part of their private life = relationship with God, so they feel very strongly about the fossils. Still hasn't made them withdraw their children from biology lessons.

seeker Fri 06-Nov-09 23:41:20

I would LOVE my children to be coming back every night to the beds they are asleep in now when they are 18. The thought of them being 200 miles away from me breaks my heart. But the important thing here is that I know that I mustn't under any circumstances let them know that's how I feel. If they want to go to St Andrews or Sydney or Kuala Lumpur, then my job is to wave them off with a smile. We have an excellent university 15 miles from our front door. I would think it a wasted opportunity if wither of my children went to it.

ravenAK Sat 07-Nov-09 00:13:27

Starkadder, your dh's experience is quite unusual & outdated.

10 years ago PSHCE was routinely the responsibility of form tutors at my school - I've taught it quite competently, I think, but these days it's more usually under the RE 'umbrella' - called something like 'Integrated Studies' or 'Ethics'.

Agree with earlier posters that the 'mechanics' are taught as part of Science, so if you'd prefer your dc not to know what goes where & the potential consequences, withdrawing them from Sex Ed will not keep them adequately ignorant.

What depresses me is the presumption by some posters that teachers are routinely foisting their stereotypically libertine ideas on delicate innocents. No. It just doesn't work like that.

For a start, we are professionals. Keeping one's personal opinion separate from one's teaching is not a skill any teacher is unfamiliar with. If someone told me 'my mum thinks that...' I wouldn't dream of telling them their mum was 'wrong'.

If asked what I thought, I'd be honest, never prescriptive. ('Well, I think...., but what's more important is what you think')

& where sexual 'permissiveness' is concerned - & it seems to be the main area that parents get panicky, sorry, concerned, about - honestly, you'll find very few teachers gaily advocating unfettered & feckless teenage shagging. If nothing else, it plays merry hell with those vital GCSE results...

MissM Sat 07-Nov-09 08:39:56

well said Raven, teachers are professionals and I feel quite angry at some of the things I've read by columnists suggesting that they will somehow screw up innocent minds through their teaching.

Starkadder is right in her concerns though - there are many many many teachers being required to teach PSHE education without sufficient training, and feeling uncomfortable about certain areas (not because of any hang ups necessarily, but because of the sheer sensitivity). That's why there must be some very good initial teacher training going along with this - badly taught PSHE ed could be worse than no PSHE at all.

piscesmoon Sat 07-Nov-09 09:08:57

'What depresses me is the presumption by some posters that teachers are routinely foisting their stereotypically libertine ideas on delicate innocents. No. It just doesn't work like that.

Some people have very low opinions of teachers. It can be badly taught but I don't think you can just make that assumption-it can also be brilliantly taught. Maths/English/Art etc can be badly taught-no one says 'then don't teach them'. They get on the phone (or at least I would)and complain.

I am reading an autobiography, at the moment, of a well known figure who grew up in the '60s. She was a clever girl who has done well, and is a sane, well balanced member of the community. It made me think of this thread. She had a strict mother who had very fixed ideas on dress and acceptable venues for a 14/15yr old and who thought boys were a 'danger'. She gets around it by keeping her going out clothes and make up at a friend's house, setting off to a venue approved by her mother, meeting her friends at a disco, getting changed and putting on make up in the loos, at 9.40pm she gets changed back, washes her face, hides her bag of clothes for the friend to pick up later and gets the 10pm bus. She arrives home in 'mother approved' clothes and alice band to talk about her 'official' evening. It was easier in those days, without phones, but it goes on all the time! DCs will find a way around a strict parent if they want to.
She also recounts the more worldly wise girls imparting their knowledge behind the bike sheds and them passing around 'Lady Chatterly's Lover' in a brown paper cover under the guise of a text book. This was an all girl's grammar school. I had a very sheltered upbringing, and was a late developer, but that type of thing certainly went on. It goes on today-it will always go on.
Having some sensible sex instruction in school seems sensible-it isn't as a replacement for the parent-it is just in addition.
My mother gave birth to me, I love her to bits and am dreading finally having to live without her but she doesn't own me body and soul! I don't have to agree with her-we have opposing views on many things-it doesn't hurt our relationship. I would have been very cross if she had withdrawn me from a lesson that the rest of the class were having because of her hangups about the state v parents. Luckily I am confident she wouldn't have done it.

DuelingFanjo Sat 07-Nov-09 10:47:18

Just read your comments piscesmoon, RE not losing your virginity in Uni/College. I'm glad it wasn't just me. I didn't meet the right person either smile I didn't have sex because I didn't love or like anyone enough to want do it, though I did have a couple of boyfriends while I was there.

I knew what sex was from such an early age that I can't really remember ever not knowing. Didn't get any formal school education as far as I remember but I was lucky, I think, that my parents were pretty open. For some reason it was important to me that I feel loved and that I could trust the person I had/have sex with. I wonder if my parents taught me this but I really don't know.

piscesmoon Sat 07-Nov-09 11:43:21

I think there were lots of us DuelingFanjo. I knew all about it, and there were certainly girls at school who were sexually active under age. I did what was right for me and what I was comfortable with, nothing to do with parents or sex education -except possibly that I got the message at home that you didn't need to follow the crowd. My mother's message was very clear -no sex before marriage, but it wasn't one I agree with.
MillyMollyMoo seems to think all students are sleeping around and drunk! They are only like any other section of the public-there are all sorts. My eldest DS didn't drink much as a student, he joined the mountaineering club and mountain marathons and drink don't really mix as you have to be super fit!
University gives you access to all sorts of activities and experiences and life long friendships. It is about far more than the study.
I don't think that DS3 would have chosen to go so far from home, but it was the right place for him, I could see that as soon as I visited.
They have to learn by their own mistakes. The cotton wool approach is very bad in the long term. I know that DS1 was shocked when in his 3rd year in university he had to work in a group of 4. They discovered that one of the group travelled in daily from home, about 15 miles away, he went to lectures and went home, he had never even set foot in the student bar. I dare say that his parents were happy that he was 'safe in his own bed' but I don't think it was a good life for a 21yr old.
If they get drunk and 'bonk random people' (to quote)hopefully they learn by it and get it out of their system. It is much better than having a midlife crisis. I know someone my age with very strict parents, she married young to get away and then at 35yrs realised she had missed out when young and went off with a 19yr old! It destroyed a marriage and upset the DCs.

juuule Sat 07-Nov-09 11:52:25

Piscesmoon - maybe his parents weren't happy about it but perhaps it was his choice and they supported him in it. I know university students who have opted to stay at home to avoid bigger loans than they already have. Their parents would prefer them to move out but would also prefer their dc to not to have unecessary debts. I also know of students who prefer to be at home.

piscesmoon Sat 07-Nov-09 14:04:34

I dare say it was his choice to stay at home juuule, I really have no idea, but I do know that he wasn't happy with his social isolation.
My DS2's girlfriend is living at home at the local university-it is her choice.

1. it is near my DS,
2. it saves masses of money
3. she is very outgoing and will make friends anywhere
4. she already has a very active social life.
5. Her parents treat her like an adult, she has her own car and comes and goes when she wants and is not told what to think.

It really doesn't matter as long as the DC has made the choice.

You seem to be nitpicking small points juuule. I only have one-that the parents do not have 'rights' to be the only people allowed to give information to DCs. All DCs are free spirits, it isn't in the parent's gift to control what the DC thinks and there is no earthly reason why a DC should think the same as a parent! It doesn't alter the relationship-you don't have to think alike to love or live with someone.
The DC will make up their own mind, and it is much healthier to have a range of opinions from an early age, they get used to contrasting and comparing and being discriminative. IMO the DC who is likely to become involved in cults etc is the one who has been kept on the narrow line of 'mummy thinks' and no one is allowed to point out alternatives.
Even within the same family DCs will have different views. Just taking 2 friends at random:
Friend 1. DD took herself off to the doctor aged 16yrs and got the pill. She wouldn't have any interference-'my body-my life'. DS, 5 yrs older didn't sleep with his girlfriend because he thought it important to wait for marriage. Friend somewhere between the two.
Friend 2. A Christmas, Easter, Christmas type church goer. DD very anti religion and won't even have her baby christened. DS university student whose life revolves around the Christian Union and the local evangelical church.
Both friends have a good relationship with both their DCs, they accept that they have to make their own decisions, even if it doesn't agree with mother.
Compulsory sex education isn't saying instead of parents-or that parents or wrong, it is merely in addition. DCs need as much information as they can get. The ones who have parents that are objecting are the most in need IMO.

juuule Sat 07-Nov-09 14:21:32

While you might think it's nitpicking, piscesmoon, I think it's just trying to maintain a balanced view where you appear to be giving examples of certain situations and implying they due to controlling parents.

Whether the student lived at home or not was irrelevant imo and was no reflection on whether his parents were happy with the situation or not but you suggested
"I dare say that his parents were happy that he was 'safe in his own bed'"
which you admit you have no idea about and also say that you
"don't think it was a good life for a 21yr old."
when this might have been the best option for that particular 21yo. Your opinions, of course, just as my posts are mine.
If you want me to stop nitpicking, stop dropping the nitswink

I do agree that it's a good thing for children to be exposed to different views from different people.
I do think though, that they need to be appropriate to the stage of development the child is at. If a caring parent decides that it would be in the interests of their child to be withdrawn from certain things until they are more mature then that should be considered and respected as the parent may know what's in the best interest of the child than someone else. Particularly if the child/young person has communicated that to the parent but feels unable to speak with teachers or peers about it for fear of looking silly.

scarletlilybug Sat 07-Nov-09 15:22:22

Frankly, I despair for the future of our supposedly democratic society as more and more of our rights are taken away by the state, whilst never a murmur of opposition is heard...

"Frankly i was overjoyed by the headlines - it means that, for once, the State is standing up for what it believes is right instead of pandering to pressure groups who really have no palce intervening in public education." (MIFLAW)

And what about when the state is a Stalinist one, or a Nazi one, or Zimbabwe, or China... will you still be so happy than that the State is "standing up " for what it believes is right (and in the face of opposition from general public opinion)? Soldiers are being sent to Afghanistan to die in the name of democracy... yet here, yet another right is taken over by the State to widespread applause from those who would kid themselves they are "liberal".

"The Government is pressing ahead despite its own research, which shows that the move is heavily opposed, with 79 per cent of the population backing the right of parents to exempt their children." Link

To me, this whole issue is about so, so much more than sex education.

piscesmoon Sat 07-Nov-09 16:41:20

Where a DC goes to university is irrelevant, the fact that the DC gets to choose is the relevant part. I don't think that going to university and attending lectures and going home is good for any 21yr old, I accept that is my opinion but in the case I mentioned the 21yr old was very unhappy with it-he said so and they helped him socialise which is what he wanted.Quite probably his parents did too, I was only replying to MillyMollyMoo who is 'hoping and praying'her DCs get to university, but only near home. (I hope it has occurred to her that they might not want to go to university).

' If a caring parent decides that it would be in the interests of their child to be withdrawn from certain things until they are more mature then that should be considered and respected as the parent may know what's in the best interest of the child than someone else. Particularly if the child/young person has communicated that to the parent but feels unable to speak with teachers or peers about it for fear of looking silly.'

This is fine IMO if the DC has asked the parent, but not if the parent has just decided that it is not in the best interests of the DC. At 15yrs the DC is old enough to be consulted and their wishes respected.
As a shy teenager I would much rather have sat quietly in the back of the lesson than to have the total embarrassment of everyone knowing that my parents had withdrawn me.

I agree that the we don't want a lot of state control-but I am also against parents thinking they brought the DC into the world and so they can tell it what to think!

MillyR Sat 07-Nov-09 16:41:41

A lot of debate seems to focus on what people think will be taught rather than what actually will be taught, so the 79% figure is a bit irrelevant if people don't know what they are objecting to.

All the teaching materials can be looked at on the FPA website. I have looked at the age 6-7 comic and I do not agree with it because it labels the vulva as the vagina (in a picture of external body parts - labelling hair, foot, arm etc).

I think that is absurd from both a scientific and cultural perspective. A vulva is not a vagina. The cultural use of vagina to mean vulva is connected to the whole concept of a female's sexual functions being perceived as about appearances - men thinking of breasts and external pubic area in a sexual way and defining breasts as genitals, the vulva as a reproductive organ etc, when in fact the reproductive organs are internal and not externally visible on a woman. Germaine Greer has repeatedly raised this point about women's sex and sexual organs being seen as an external visual property, thereby conflating sex with gender and femaleness as something that is viewed not experienced.

Scientifically, calling a vulva a vagina is just wrong.

I am not against sex education, but I think that rather than having a knee jerk reaction to what schools will teach, we need to look at the curriculum and debate it.

It is all very well saying trust teachers, but the first teaching material I have opened has a glaring factual error!

The comic itself is lovely though. It is absolutely how I would like my child to be taught about sex and relationships.

MillyMollyMoo Sat 07-Nov-09 16:52:22

What do you think I'm going to do, drag them to University ? how ridiculous.
BUT equally being sat on their arses and in and out of jobs until they are 30 isn't an option either.
I'm afraid I have seen both sides of the story, one where parents are very, maybe too involved in their childs life until the age of 30 and one where the child made the choices until 25, well ongoing really but those choices have not made the person happy, not made them independant, they still live with a parent and act like a child despite being treated as an adult from 15.
People need guidance, I wish I had had much more and somebody to help pick the pieces up, my mistakes have been very expensive financially and emotionally so there is no way I'll be sitting back and letting my kids make the same ones.

juuule Sat 07-Nov-09 16:57:17

"This is fine IMO if the DC has asked the parent"
But it wouldn't be fine if the lesson was compulsory.

As regards parents stopping their children doing things. It's not always as straightforward as it may seem. Sometimes parents are okay with being blamed by their children for not allowing something when the reality is that it is the child that doesn't want to do it but doesn't want to state that to others.

Agree with Millyr post.

MillyR Sat 07-Nov-09 17:02:21

MMM

You have to let people make their own mistakes; people learn to be adullts by making mistakes and having their own experiences.

I have heard two University admissions tutors complain to me in the last week alone about parents turning up to open days, and when the tutor asks the student a question, the Mother answers!

How can you teach students who can't answer questions for themselves or think for themselves? That is becoming a growing problem for HE staff.

As for the parent preventing mistakes until the child is 25, I was a parent before 25!

MillyMollyMoo Sat 07-Nov-09 17:06:14

MillyR I would never at the age of 9 answer for my daughter, that's an entirely different scenerio than sitting back and watching them fuck up their GCSE's/ALevels/degree because you don't care enough which is what I have seen happen all under the guise of letting them live their own lives.
I too was a parent before 25, wish I hadn't been though.

MillyR Sat 07-Nov-09 17:13:44

But just because you wish you hadn't been a parent at 25, that doesn't mean that it is a bad choice for your daughter.

I think it is madness to push children into doing A levels if they are rebelling against it. They can always do them as mature students. It is a waste for everyone concerned for an 18 year old to go on to HE if they are not really committed to it and are being pushed into it by their parents.

MillyMollyMoo Sat 07-Nov-09 17:20:29

Well I think you're wrong because the example within our own family is that they tend not to ever go back once they've dropped out and in these days where a degree will be required to empty the bins soon, dropping out just won't be an option in this house.
It's been a downward spiral in the case that I am thinking of, agencies jobs, no security to the envitable why bother I'm better off on benefits, all because nobody kicked his arse at 16 to get into college and get on with his life.
2 kids later he still lives with his mother, considers every penny he earns to be pocket money to with what he chooses and basically now the market for labourers have dropped he has no immediate future, how depressing for a 25 year old.
I wish I'd dragged him to college myself looking back.

MillyMollyMoo Sat 07-Nov-09 17:22:15

The poitn of that heart felt speech is that to me a 15 year old is impressionable an 18 year old is not an adult, not really these days and I intend to keep the apron strings very firmly in place until mid twenties, they can leave home when they can cook, clean, budget and keep a roof over their heads and not before.

MillyR Sat 07-Nov-09 17:30:28

MMM, I think your plans are ill advised and you can't stop a 16 year old from leaving and doing what they want. I left home as a teenager and did my A levels while living in a squat in London rather than live with my over-controlling parents. I have never regretted that decision and my life has turned out okay. The only people who it had a negative effect on were my parents and their deluded aspiratons.

All of these anecdotes are really irrelevant; we all have to look a bit further than our family experiences to make our decisions. I know plenty of students drop out or even develop mental health problems due to parents who have pushed them into uni, or the wrong uni, or the wrong degree that I have no interest for or aptitude in. Not everybody is suited to HE. I work in HE but I would not make my children go if they expressed a preference to be a carpenter or a shop assistant.

MillyR Sat 07-Nov-09 17:32:06

That should have been they have no interest for, not I have...

MillyMollyMoo Sat 07-Nov-09 17:54:21

They need to complete a three year course to be a Carpenter, shop assistants need NVQ's Level 3 to crawl above the breadline of minimum wage, I feel quite sad if you are prepared to allow your child a life of poverty or being trapped at home because wages being paid to trades people and shop assistants even in the North West are too low to cover the rent in areas I wouldn't go after dark.
The students you describe with mental health problems could probably use more support ie living at home throughout their degree.

MillyMollyMoo Sat 07-Nov-09 17:55:07

Oh and I have looked beyond my own family unfortunately I have to to find any sucess stories.

MillyR Sat 07-Nov-09 18:06:34

You can do lots of training courses while at work for most skilled manual jobs. We have a whole range of workmen in our house doing it up right now, including apprentices who had no qualifications before being taken on. Our neighbour has a degree in Classics from Oxford and has retrained on the job as a plumber. My brother left school at 16, has never been to Uni, and did all his training at work and gets paid in excess of £50,000 a year for skilled, manual work in engineering. My sister is a manager in a well known chain of stores and has no relavent qualifications to any area of retail. More importantly, both of my siblings are happy in the jobs they have chosen.

No offence to you, MMM, because you have clearly thought your perspective through. But fear of being working class seems to be rife on MN, and many children are made miserable by being pushed into a narrow academic path that they are not suited for.

piscesmoon Sat 07-Nov-09 18:13:01

' my mistakes have been very expensive financially and emotionally so there is no way I'll be sitting back and letting my kids make the same ones.'

This is a big, big mistake. You can't let people learn from your mistakes. My mother has admitted that she would like to wrap me in cotton wool (this was in my 30's!)and keep me safe. Of course I can see where she is coming from, I can't bear the thought of my DSs getting hurt or mucking up their lives however they need to be free to do it. I have told my mother that I completely understand, but I need to work things out for myself and if I get hurt, I get hurt.
I wasn't suggesting that you drag them to university MMM- but they may not have the same aspirations as you.

I am not at all how I may appear on here, I am a people pleaser, anything for an easy life and will always avoid trouble through diplomacy -but MMM, I couldn't stand your control and I would leave home at the very first opportunity! Attached to apron strings until mid 20's is stifling! My DH1 was dead before he got to 30 but he at least had an independant life. You should read the MIL threads on here to see where over control gets you!

MillyMollyMoo Sat 07-Nov-09 18:13:36

We're importing our trades people not training them, I went on a course a few years ago to train as an electrician, I needed to do the house up and it seemed like a good idea.
On the course were plenty of young hard working lads who were very willing to learn, unfortunately they needed work placements.
There were none, this was during the "boom" of 2006, god knows what it's like now. Catch 22, nobody will take you on because the Poles are cheaper and better at the job and you can't become good at the job without doing it.
This will only get worse as it's affecting the Middle Classes now, I know a lot of call centre 1st class graduates.
But still if I had to choose to degree or not to degree then mine will be the best qualified hairdressers on the block to give them every opportunity to ride the storms.

piscesmoon Sat 07-Nov-09 18:13:57

sorry -independent

piscesmoon Sat 07-Nov-09 18:25:44

DS1 is working in Australia for a few months-he is in his 20's and would find it laughable that he was still supposed to be under my supervision.

MillyMollyMoo Sat 07-Nov-09 18:28:17

Yes but the fact that he is in Australia is down to your input and influence, my family member hasn't been anywhere since he 16 because he doesn't have the mum or dad suggesting why not as part of the bigger picture of your life pop to Oz for a couple of months.

piscesmoon Sat 07-Nov-09 19:05:37

I didn't suggest it-he has gone as part of his job in the UK.
DS2 has a trade, I predict that he will end up being more 'successful' than either of his brothers, purely because he has the drive and is interested in money.

I understand entirely where you are coming from MMM, we all want the very best for our DCs and we don't want them to make big mistakes and mess up their lives. I loved it when mine were all asleep, safe in the home, but they have to be free.

I have guided mine and I thought, before mumsnet, that I was a control freak but I appear to be quite liberal! I wish my DSs thought so!

As a parent our job is to gradually let go. I don't find it easy, I can't sleep until I know they are in at night.
By the time DS3 went off he needed to know how to cook for himself, use a washing machine and iron etc. He needed to find out for himself that he doesn't like to drink too much, that he can meet deadlines for work without his Mum organising, that he can work out when he needs to go to bed etc.
Students who are used to heavy parental supervision are the ones that get into difficulty-they go mad when 'let off the leash'.

All the MIL problems seem to come from over control IMO. If my DS1's girlfriend thought that I needed to supervise my DS in his 20's she would probably run a mile-with good reason! I would be the MIL from hell.

I would give it some serious thought MMM -you need to trust (however hard).

nooka Sat 07-Nov-09 22:59:45

I think that there is a vast difference between guiding and influencing and controlling. My parents had very high expectations of us, and we've always felt we had a lot to live up to. Mostly that was reat, and liberating and stretching, but sometimes we felt that if we didn't succeed they wouldn't be very proud of us, and that was fairly undermining. I hope to be a little more balanced with my two. I expect them to work hard, to be true to themselves, to explore the world and make up their minds about to think and be. To succeed as much as they can, doing whatever they are good at affords them a living and makes them happy.

I'll be giving advice and support along the way, but it is their life, and I will expect them to start making decisions in a few years, and those decisions will become more important and more independent as they get older (currently 9 and 10). I do expect them to go to university - their choices will be about what to study and where to go - not whether to go, but as we are already talking about that now (and they have the aptitude and academia does run very strongly in my family), I don't think that will be a difficulty for them.

The job of parents as I see it is to make sure that our children have a really good basis for decision making. That they are strong and confident and understand the consequences of their actions.

Not sure what this has to do with sex ed though. I'm of the talk to them throughout life school of thought - nothing they get told at 15 is going to be a surprise if I can help it.

piscesmoon Sun 08-Nov-09 08:38:46

'The job of parents as I see it is to make sure that our children have a really good basis for decision making. That they are strong and confident and understand the consequences of their actions.'

This is so true. To my mind, it means from an early age that they are coming into contact with different views and they are free to make up their own mind, it isn't something they will suddenly aquire in their mid 20's, when the parent decides they are mature enough.

I thought that my mother was controlling but at least she left our minds free! There was a thread the other week about vegetarianism which still leaves me shocked. I can fully accept that a vegetarian won't cook meat, the DCs will be brought up as vegetarians and they will keep them off meat entirely as under 5's (possibly under 8's)but one poster wouldn't allow her 12 yr old to eat meat!
I would have no objection to my mother thinking eating meat cruel and disgusting and not cooking it in the home, but I find it utterly bizarre that she would expect me to think the same! Why should I?

'Not sure what this has to do with sex ed though. I'm of the talk to them throughout life school of thought - nothing they get told at 15 is going to be a surprise if I can help it.'

I think that it has a lot to do with it. If you have always talked about it, a school sex education lesson at 15 isn't going to be shocking or surprising, it is merely some more information and possibly some different views that the DC is free to accept or reject or modify to suit them.
School lessons can't suit everyone. I hated the way my DCs were taught 'Food Technology', but I didn't withdraw them from the lesson!

juuule Sun 08-Nov-09 08:45:26

So what if, at 15y, sex ed holds no surprises but the child decides that it's personal and they would rather not take part.

I don't know how far the parent in the vegetarian thread went. Whether eating meat outside the home was okay. But consider if it was smoking. If your child decided to smoke in the home would you be okay with that - their choice?

piscesmoon Sun 08-Nov-09 08:59:14

You tend to take small unimportant points juuule. I wasn't saying that it was OK for the 12 yr old to eat meat in the home-she would need to respect her mother's views, but there is no need for her to think the same and she should be able to eat meat at school or at a friend's house or at a party etc. Absolutely no one smokes in my house-it is my house. I would point out the dangers to my DCs and I would be very disappointed if they smoked, but I would have to accept that they might not think the same and that I can't control what they do when I don't see them. They don't smoke but this is more through example and the right information.

If the DC doesn't want to take part and has asked you to withdraw them from sex education lessons, then I have absolutely no argument with it, I said that much earlier.
I have a huge issue with it if it comes from the parent.
I also, as a shy DC would have died of embarrassment if my mother had singled me out by withdrawing me.

juuule Sun 08-Nov-09 09:46:25

Maybe unimportant to you, pisces, but who are you to say what is or isn't important to me? Maybe I'm not great at understanding what's being said or maybe you are not explaining what you mean very well. However, to me, it sometimes apppears that you attempt to trivialise questions which highlight flaws in your logic.

Whether or not you would have been embarrassed at being withdrawn from classes, some children would not be. If the classes are compulsory how then it would appear they won't have the option to be withdraw. And not all children will be mature enough to state their own wishes about being withdrawn and so parents would have to intervene on their behalf.

cory Sun 08-Nov-09 10:02:47

My own experience seems to suggest that those of my peers who ended up being pushed into life choices by parents determined not to let them repeat their own mistakes have ended up very very unhappy people- and extremely resentful of their parents.

I do have a few friends whose parents tried to exercise control well into adulthood; they have not met with ultimate success and their relationships have been damaged.

I am very grateful to my own parents who let me try out on my own: they couldn't have known what was right for me, but I feel I have got to the place where I want to be. I was certainly an adult by 18 and do not regret the choices I made then; I am a more satisfied person than my Mum was at my age.

cory Sun 08-Nov-09 10:05:00

MMR wrote:
"I intend to keep the apron strings very firmly in place until mid twenties, they can leave home when they can cook, clean, budget and keep a roof over their heads and not before"

So what do you do if they simply say, politely but firmly, 'sorry Mum, I'm leaving' and walk out of the door? I am sure I would have done so long before my mid-twenties (by which time I was working abroad and living with the man later to become dh), whatever my parents did to stop me. I love them dearly, but really I felt I had a right to my own life. I know they were very dubious about dh, when he first came into my life (I was 19), my Mum was also extremely unhappy about my emigrating- but from my pov those were the right decisions to make

MillyMollyMoo Sun 08-Nov-09 11:16:48

Maybe I'm coming accross badly, I'm much better face to face, I don't disagree with anything that you've said Cory.
Drifting along is my biggest fear/objection and I see that direction coming from me not the school and not the state and sharing my life experiences with them I'm pretty confident will send them running in the opposite direction to that which my life and siblings have taken.

piscesmoon Sun 08-Nov-09 12:02:59

' And not all children will be mature enough to state their own wishes about being withdrawn and so parents would have to intervene on their behalf.'

I have absolutely no objection to that juuule, but I have a huge objection to the parent telling the DC that they are being withdrawn because the parent wants them withdrawn. If the DC say that they wish to go, then the parent should respect their wishes and not impose their own by saying 'you are not mature enough'.
At 15yrs I would have taken grave exception to my mother imposing her wishes under the excuse that she could ignore mine because I wasn't mature enough. Quite probably I wasn't (I cringe at some of the beliefs I had as a teenager) and I have to say that my mother has almost always been right (not that I would ever tell her!) because she has an enormous amount of common sense and life experience, however the really important thing is that I should be free to have my own beliefs and make my own mistakes in life. You do not learn by someone else's mistakes.
If you are sensible MillyMollyMoo you will realise that your DCs can work things out for themselves and guidance and communication will get you much further than trying to control what you can't control. At 18 you have to treat them like adults, even if you think they are too young. You can't have control of DCs in their early 20's. My DS1 has a responsible job, when asked to go to Australia he couldn't have possibly said 'I must ask my mother if I can go'!!

Kaloki Sun 08-Nov-09 14:51:21

I always wonder with this subject, if it was called "Contraception Education" would there be less complaints against it?

piscesmoon Sun 08-Nov-09 17:11:55

It isn't just contraception education. They have always had sex education-I had it at school and I am pretty ancient!
The complaints come from the 'compulsory' part-which I can understand. I am a bit undecided on that one, as I don't think that the state should have too much power in family life.
I would certainly agree that at a younger age it isn't something that can come well from school, and is much better tackled at home. But by 15yrs I think it a good thing because either the parents have done the job well and it is just another approach or they haven't done it at all, all sorts of things have been picked up in the playground, and they need the information-especially since they are a matter of months off the age of legal consent.

nooka Sun 08-Nov-09 18:49:18

I don't have a problem with any of PHSE. It's something that I can see my children benefiting from, and that they have enjoyed telling me about. I can't see any reason why at 15 they should suddenly find it difficult. If the discussion becomes embarrassing I expect that they will just switch off like most people. I can't imagine that there will be shows of hands for who has had sex, or requirements to talk about life stories or sexual escapades. At the same age (possibly younger) I had to listen to my mother telling me that all men were essentially rapists (animal urges type stuff), that sex was to be tolerated in marriage (lie back and think of England type stuff), how her mother had sent her to a special clinic before her wedding (where she was "stretched") and that she personally had preferred horses (riding that is). Nothing covered at school (we did the put a condom on a banana type stuff) could possibly have been as embarrassing as that.

piscesmoon Sun 08-Nov-09 19:17:33

Which just goes to prove that the parent isn't always the best person to give advice,nooka!
It was much easier for me to sit quietly at the back of the class, than to be singled out as the one who didn't attend.

skidoodle Sun 08-Nov-09 19:35:51

Mumsnet, always guaranteed to support "the state" telling everyone to live like people on Mumsnet agree they should.

PMSL at "finally the state sticking up for what it believes is"

Yes, the poor downtrodden state finally fighting back against all those crazy parents who think they know best how to raise their own children.

There is no way I would want a child of mine to be withdrawn from sex ed lessons at any age, never mind 15, but I find the idea of compulsory education in this area quite chilling.

If parents prefer to educate their children in relationships and sexuality themselves, then I can't really see that it is the place of government to interfere with that.

If adolescents of 15 are old enough to decide this matter for themselves (and I think they are), then sure they have the option of withdrawing themselves if they'd prefer not to take part in the lesson? Or is 15 old enough to make decisions independently of your parents, but not of the government?

MissM Sun 08-Nov-09 20:31:49

I would love to know how all those people who say that they are the best people to deal with sex ed for their kids would actually approach some of the learning that is covered in PSHE.

I'd also like to know why they don't object to not being allowed to withdraw their kids from science lessons which teach about sex. Why are people so scared of PSHE?

nooka Sun 08-Nov-09 21:15:24

Education is compulsory up to 16. Parents don't generally get a say in what is taught - why should PHSE be any different? I'm really glad that school focus on skills that aren't just academic, and learning to have good healthy relationships to me is a fairly fundamental life skill, and one that is useful to do in the company of your peers. Sex is a part of relationships, so it should be discussed too. Contraceptives/STDs/pregnancy is to me a very small part of the package.

piscesmoon Sun 08-Nov-09 22:04:38

I really don't know why they are saying that it is compulsory-when I was at school we all just went-I doubt whether parents were ever told, certainly no one was withdrawn.

ravenAK Sun 08-Nov-09 22:56:56

I think it's always been an option to withdraw your child from certain 'contentious' areas of the curriculum, such as RE & the sex ed bit of PSHCE. Sex Ed is now being explicitly excluded from the list of things you can 'opt out' of.

My own feeling is that a line gets crossed when school starts saying things like 'Sex before marriage is awful', or, I suppose, 'Everyone should learn how to give the perfect blowjob'...I don't like the idea of school teaching what to think rather than how to think.

& IME this isn't the case in mainstream secondary schools in this country - these lessons are very focused on respecting everyone's POV, & the important thing being to think through your own feelings about sex - hopefully BEFORE you find yourself making practical decisions on an ad hoc basis as someone you desperately want to impress is trying to get their hands into your undies...

I really, really cannot construct a scenario in which any parent could reasonably take umbrage at the content or ethos of my own school's lessons on this subject. I can think of criticisms one could make as a student (my gobby tutor group are year 11 grin) - too little too late, is the main one.

& I appreciate that some parents would rather tackle the subject themselves. Even so. Nothing in our PSHCE lessons that doesn't respect every conceivable parental stance.

What might be more interesting could be to give the kids free choice: 'You can go to PSHCE or you can have a free period to crack on with coursework in the library.' & then to ask the ones who opt out why.

I predict that the responses would tend to be 'I don't need it, I know all the factual stuff from Science & I'm bored with sitting around talking about self-respect - I'll conduct my lovelife how I want, when I want, thanks' rather than 'It makes me uncomfortable' &/or 'It conflicts with what I believe'

GrumpyYoungFogey Sun 08-Nov-09 23:13:44

Sex education in the UK will continue to be a waste of time unless we move on from the current meme that it is usual for youths to start fornicating when they are in their mid-teens.

Kids are incredibly conformist. I remember from my (not so distant) youth the ridiculous peer pressure to be navigated through until you hit about 20 (then people don't believe you when you say you are a virgin!) You have to be doing it, even school tells you that.

Never mind the crap about "safe-sex", "respect" and "waiting until you are ready". The message is becoming sexually active is an adolescent rite-of-passage, like getting spots or starting to shave.

Teenage sex leads to disease, emotional damage, unwanted pregnancies (which in turn lead to either welfare dependency or infanticide). Successful marriages tend to involve couples who have had one, or very few, sexual partners.

The abstinence message can be put across very cheesily, and is obviously out of fashion with bien pensant thinking. But to the vast majority of children this message is never presented. I certainly never heard it.

nooka Sun 08-Nov-09 23:14:02

Oh, I'd imagine given the choice of lesson or no lesson would pretty much always be no lesson thanks! grin Even if the lesson was really interesting and well taught/facilitated.

nooka Sun 08-Nov-09 23:19:31

Well the evidence is that where there is really good sex/relationships education (usual suspects the Scandinavians) the age at which children become sexually active is older, and the accounts of first sex are more positive (with concurrent lower rates of teenage pregnancy, abortion and STDs). The abstinence schemes in the States however are not associated with teenagers actually having less sex. Oh, and it is possible for teenagers to have sex without any negative side effects (I personally wouldn't advocate lots of sex to my children when they hit their mid-teens) and of course many of those side effect happen to adults too.

Do you have any evidence for your claim that people with fewer sexual partners have more successful marriages?

cory Sun 08-Nov-09 23:28:12

But Grumpy, if teenage sex invariably leads to disease, emotional damage and unwanted pregnancies- how come these are so much more of a problem in the UK than in say the Scandinavian countries? Do you imagine that Swedish youngsters practise abstinence until they get married in their twenties or thirties?

I grew up in Scandinavia and still have very close ties. Even 30 years ago, abstinence was not the norm (or at least not the only norm) for teenagers. But I don't remember my friends as emotionally damaged (I remained a virgin until I had left home). An awful lot of them have gone on to have successful and happy marriages or longterm relationships. And the only teen pregnancy I every heard of was that of the Baptist pastor's daughter.

Looking at the younger generation of nieces and nephews and their friends, again they seem to be coping rather well with life- though I doubt that they are all virgins wink

I think the British problem with sexually risky behaviour has to be due to other factors.

ravenAK Sun 08-Nov-09 23:42:07

Actually, I'll present the abstinence message to my own dc, male & female, without any hesitation.

I do believe that crap teenage sex is a bad idea - for all the reasons you cite GYF (although I agree with nooka that your claim about successful marriages is highly dubious).

Having said that, at 16 (grammar school educated, university bound, generally quite level headed & not particularly overwhelmed with lust for anyone) I was really quite desperate to get the whole 'losing my virginity' thing out of the way. So I had rubbish sex with a rubbish boyfriend, just to tick that particular box.

& because I'd had decent sex education at school, I got him to wear a condom & the worst thing that happened was that I was rather put off sex.

It's easy as an adult to say 'Well, it's obviously best to wait until you meet the person you're going to spend the rest of your life with'.

Lots of teenagers think they have met that person (some of them are right). Lots of others think, like me, in terms of 'getting it over with'. You have to accept that & educate for the practicalities.

GrumpyYoungFogey Sun 08-Nov-09 23:57:53

How stupid do you have to be to not take some steps to avoid unwanted pregnancies/VD?

Even I, as an innocent and still pre-pubescent 12 year old knew:

a) Where babies come from,
b) That there were steps one can take to prevent babies
c) That one person sticking body parts into another might lead to an embarrassing trip to a special clinic

Those whose thinking is stuck in the mainstream don't get it*. It's like when the Catholic church explain that condoms don't prevent the spread AIDS. Because they don't. What prevents AIDS is a change in behaviour.

The only safe sex is no sex.

We all know what a johnny is, but in a culture of promiscuity they are forgotten in the heat of the moment. (particularly by the less bright or those who simply don't care)

*Neither did I as a teenager wink

TheFallenMadonna Mon 09-Nov-09 00:02:40

I wonder of they are forgotten in the heat of the moment? I think they aren't used for a number of reasons. I'm always astonished at the reluctance of men generally to use condoms. And of women to be understanding of this.

abouteve Mon 09-Nov-09 00:11:35

So right too. Not all 15 year olds are having sex but a lot are. If they cannot speak to parents about contraception and sexual health then there should be somewhere else they can get practical advice.

I was a teen in the 70's in love at 15 and having sex without the availability of contraception advice. Suppose it goes without saying I went through the inevitable worse case scenerious. Would hate to think that my DD suffered that through embarrasement or lack of resources.

As it happens she knows she can tell me anything but that is more because of my experience, there are still parents of her peers that are ignoring the blaringly obvious.

nooka Mon 09-Nov-09 00:12:19

Condoms do lessen the spread of AIDS. It's stupid to say that they don't - there are plenty of studies that demonstrate easy access to condoms makes a difference to disease spread. Of course not having sex at all would reduce the spread of AIDS even more. But people do have sex (it is after all a biological urge/imperative), so giving practical advice on lowering risk is much more effective than effectively sticking your head in the sand.

Plenty of intelligent people have pregnancy scares (a high proportion of children born are the result of accidents) and visit VD clinics. Many (indeed I think its actually most) of them are adults. It's foolish to think that only the stupid/feckless get into trouble. And even if it is, it's still worth attempting to reduce their numbers, because of the wider impact on society if nothing else. Education is one way to do that.

I agree that as a society we are a bit sex obsessed. But then we are also prudish and judgmental too. Not a healthy mix. I don't think that is why individuals (young or old) choose to have sex. I am going to give my children all that "crap about "safe-sex", "respect" and "waiting until you are ready"". Because I think it is a) true, and b) way more effective at discouraging early unhealthy sex than saying they must never have sex, or never talking about it, or pretending that it's not pleasurable or something they might feel pressured into, or indeed something they might feel like doing.

That was pretty much the mainstream message when I was a teenager, and it wasn't terribly effective except as a good way to make sure that teenagers never told their parents what was going on in their personal lives.

ravenAK Mon 09-Nov-09 00:26:47

Well, I don't think I was particularly stupid - probably more gormless when it came to sex than I was with Latin or Sisters of Mercy lyrics, admittedly, but not actually thick.

Of course I knew about condoms. What good sex ed gave me was the confidence to insist on them. & I'd argue that the best sex education works from '...probably best not to have sex in your teens...' through to '...but if you choose to do so, here's how to reduce your risk of unwanted pregnancy or STD'.

Condoms don't prevent the spread of AIDS? The idea is that they should reduce the transmission of HIV - not quite the same thing. & of course they do -in a given sexual encounter where one partner is HIV positive the virus is less likely to be transmitted if a condom is used.

Why would one be more likely not to bother with a condom in a 'culture of promiscuity' than in one, where, (I'm guessing this is what you're advocating), lifelong monogamy is the norm? I would've expected someone transgressing those values - because they'd been carried away by the 'heat of the moment' - to be less likely to think coolly about practising safe sex.

It's speculative on your part & also on mine, but the evidence from Scandinavian countries does seem to argue in favour of more & clearer sex education.

MIFLAW Mon 09-Nov-09 01:25:41

"Mumsnet, always guaranteed to support "the state" telling everyone to live like people on Mumsnet agree they should.

PMSL at "finally the state sticking up for what it believes is"

Yes, the poor downtrodden state finally fighting back against all those crazy parents who think they know best how to raise their own children.

There is no way I would want a child of mine to be withdrawn from sex ed lessons at any age, never mind 15, but I find the idea of compulsory education in this area quite chilling.

If parents prefer to educate their children in relationships and sexuality themselves, then I can't really see that it is the place of government to interfere with that."

Skidoodle, either you are missing the point or just ignoring it.

Of COURSE it is up to parents to educate their children as best they see fit.

Just not on state money.

If you want a state education, then you accept what the state defines as the curriculum.

Do you go on package holidays and say, "actually, I don't like the look of the breakfast bar, can you scramble me a couple of quails' egggs with some smoked salmon"?

"If adolescents of 15 are old enough to decide this matter for themselves (and I think they are), then sure they have the option of withdrawing themselves if they'd prefer not to take part in the lesson?" Do you extend this logic to maths, too - if a 15-y-o doesn't fancy doing trigonometry, they should be able to bunk off?

Feel strongly? Home ed. Or even let your child truant, it's probably over and done with in a couple of lessons.

But don't expect the state to work round you.

piscesmoon Mon 09-Nov-09 08:04:36

'Kids are incredibly conformist. I remember from my (not so distant) youth the ridiculous peer pressure to be navigated through until you hit about 20 (then people don't believe you when you say you are a virgin!) You have to be doing it, even school tells you that.

This is why I think that the main message to give my DCs is that you don't have to conform to have friends. Lots of them are not having sex, even some that say they are. I think that it is important to have the information. When I was at school I remember that it was often the girls from very strict families who got into trouble, there was denial that 'their sweet little girl' could possibly have an interest in boys and I expect they would have been the ones to withdraw from the lessons-a big mistake IMO.

MissM Mon 09-Nov-09 08:35:36

Absolutely Raven - the key is confidence and assertiveness. Many many girls would know that having sex without using a condom could lead to all kinds of things, pregnancy included, but given a persuasive partner (or worse), a lack of confidence and or self-esteem and pressure, they won't ask the boy to use one.

'How stupid do you have to be to not take some steps to avoid unwanted pregnancies/VD?'
Unfortunately GYF, it's not always a matter of stupidity. And part of the problem is, quite simply, lack of education.

cory Mon 09-Nov-09 08:41:19

Still doesn't explain why most of my friends in college managed to spend years sticking body parts into one another and still noone ended up pregnant, Grumpy. The main difference I seem to remember was that sex, unless you were stupidly young or in an unequal relationship, was viewed as something positive by adults and teens alike. Not as something you had to do (I never did, until I was at uni), but as something pleasant and enjoyable and natural. And yet that almost complete absence of teen single mums on benefits. Strange hmm

juuule Mon 09-Nov-09 09:28:58

Agree with Skidoodle.

scarletlilybug Mon 09-Nov-09 13:26:10

"If you want a state education, then you accept what the state defines as the curriculum."

Even when what "the State" defines as being the curriculum is in clear opposition to the wishes of a majority of parents? Where is the mandate for that?

What about religious education? Should the right of parents to remove children from R.E lessons and collective worship also be removed?

Would you still feel so happy if the State decided to make some new statutory change to the curriculum, teaching something to which you, personally, were strongly opposed?

We are talking here about the removal of a right which, up to now, has been available to parents. Will the next step be making the withdrawal age lower - say 12? Then removing the right altogether?

If the State is serious about encouraging parents to take more, and not less, responsibility for their children, then it needs to take care not to undermine perents by assuming a parental role.

Personally, I have yet to be convinced that the answer to the high levels of teenage pregnancy and STDs in the UK is more sex education. Evidence suggests I may be correct.

"A review of RCTs that tested for an impact of SRE schemes concluded that none were effective in reducing teenage pregnancy rates (DiCenso et al, 2002). Wilkinson et al (2006) also found no association across local authorities in England between the quality of SRE provision and reductions in the under-18 conception rate.

Recent RCTs (Stephenson et al, 2008; Henderson et al, 2007) have reported a similar lack of impact on unwanted pregnancy rates. One exception is Cabezon et al (2005), who found evidence that an abstinence-based programme had a statistically significant impact in reducing both early sexual activity and pregnancy rates." From Nursing Times

RCT: Random Controlled Trial
SRE: Sex and Relationship Education

Many people like to cite the Netherlands as an example of a country where early sex education, combined with a more relaxed and open atitude to discussing sexual matters has led to a low teenage pregnancy rate. Yet they ignore other factors which may account for thie low pregnancy rate, compared to the UK - such as the stronger family units, the stronger influence of the Church and the general stigma attached to teenage pregnancy (teenage mothers are expected to remain with their parents until they are 18).

MIFLAW Mon 09-Nov-09 14:22:24

Scarlet

My views point by point.

""If you want a state education, then you accept what the state defines as the curriculum."

"Even when what "the State" defines as being the curriculum is in clear opposition to the wishes of a majority of parents? Where is the mandate for that?"

The mandate for that is in the fact that they are a government elected by universal suffrage. But, more to the point, in the case we're actually discussing, it is NOT in clear opposition to the wishes of a majority of parents. The fact that a minority is vocal does not make it a majority.

"What about religious education? Should the right of parents to remove children from R.E lessons and collective worship also be removed?"

In my opinion, neither of these are properly part of an education. But, again, you are confounding two things.

RE is part of the curriculum and is supposedly taught as an academic subject. As such, yes, the right of parents to withdraw pupils should be removed.

Collective worship is a part of the school day rather than a lesson and participation implies a belief in the worship. As such, the parent (or the child) should have the option to opt out.

"Would you still feel so happy if the State decided to make some new statutory change to the curriculum, teaching something to which you, personally, were strongly opposed?"

No, I wouldn't. If they did, I would have to consider WHY I was so strongly opposed and what my child's best interests were. If I was still unhappy, I may take steps to lobby the government not to impose it. If I found out I was in a minority or if this action failed, my decision would then have to be whether to withdraw my child from the system altogether; or whether to condone truancy on those days. It is NOT for a minority, even me ( ... ) to start saying what can and cannot be taught. To do so is, ultimately, a far more dangerous precedent, as it assails the intellectual and academic freedom of the teaching corpus.

"We are talking here about the removal of a right which, up to now, has been available to parents. Will the next step be making the withdrawal age lower - say 12? Then removing the right altogether?"

Yes, remove the right altogether, I fully endorse that - on condition that the teaching is in keeping with an agreed curriculum.

"If the State is serious about encouraging parents to take more, and not less, responsibility for their children, then it needs to take care not to undermine perents by assuming a parental role."

It is clearly not an either/or. You are free to teach your children whatever you want them to know. Take all the responsibility you can for what your children learn, by filling in the gaps a school education will inevitably leave - but I would argue that creating MORE gaps is not the way to go.

"Personally, I have yet to be convinced that the answer to the high levels of teenage pregnancy and STDs in the UK is more sex education. Evidence suggests I may be correct." In many ways that is a red herring. A person's dignity depends upon a full and unbiased awareness of who and what (s)he is and how (s)he "works", physically and mentally. Why would you deny those facts to your loved ones?

juuule Mon 09-Nov-09 14:31:55

MIFLAW - to refer to your package holiday analogy:
The present situation is that if you don't like items on offer on the menu then while you can't request something different, you don't have to eat what's on offer.

I think Scarletlilybug's approach is much more sensible than MIFLAW's dictatorial one.

MIFLAW Mon 09-Nov-09 14:47:34

If that is the case, Juule, then how do YOU feel about rolling this "sensible" approach out to English and maths? If I don't like the fact that my child's English teacher says "haitch" instead of "aitch" - or if I object to Euclidean geometry being taught in the light of relativity - should i be able to withdraw my child from those lessons?

Or does that right only extend to the teaching of biological facts?

The vaunted approach has many qualities, but I cannot see that being "sensible" is among them.

juuule Mon 09-Nov-09 15:07:15

Hmmm, I don't think I'd have an objection to that. If the parents thought they could make a better job of those particular subjects then maybe that would be better for their child/ren. You might be on to something there, MIFLAW.

I don't think it's a case of whether the teacher pronounces words correctly, it's the whole subject that is questionable.

And if you deem collective worship opt outable due to parent's beliefs then why not sex-ed on the grounds of parent's belief? And why only cover religious belief and not other philosophical beliefs?

juuule Mon 09-Nov-09 15:15:03

Aren't the biological facts taught in science?

MIFLAW Mon 09-Nov-09 15:50:53

Because collective worship is not facts. It is belief - and participation in that act implies you share that belief.

whereas RE - although I am no fan of it - presents facts about the religious practices and beliefs of others. You are then at liberty to agree, disagree, or even ignore those facts. But at least you have been exposed to them.

Sex ed is clearly much more like RE than it is like collective worship. Now if the school started organising orgies in the main hall, that would be something else ...

MIFLAW Mon 09-Nov-09 15:54:27

In theory, yes.

I bet you in practice there is a lot of red-faced mumbling.

Also, that typically covers only reproduction. It doesn't cover myths (you can't get pregnant if you're standing up); what defines consent; or even all the non-penetrative things a girl (or boy) can get pressured into by a slightly older person he or she is attracted to.

Unlike animals, human beings have sexual interaction for all sorts of reasons, and often, reproduction, far from being the goal, is an accidental spin-off.

Children NEED to know these things. whether they do them or not is then down to them and becomes genuinely their choice.

MIFLAW Mon 09-Nov-09 16:03:42

"Hmmm, I don't think I'd have an objection to that. If the parents thought they could make a better job of those particular subjects then maybe that would be better for their child/ren. You might be on to something there, MIFLAW."

Nothing to do with making a better job and everything to do with withholding canonical views (i.e. not leftfield theories but, for want of a better word, facts that explain fully and satisfactorily the everyday life of millions) on the dubious grounds that you don't subscribe to them.

juuule Mon 09-Nov-09 16:39:33

You obviously believe that SRE for everyone is the way to go MIFLAW. I'll admit I don't even really know what SRE entails but I've never felt the need to give it anthing more than a cursory look and see no need at this point to withdraw my children. However, I am concerned that something that was previously available as a choice for parents to let their children participate in has now become something that is to be made compulsory, so taking the decision away from parents about their children. Once again reinforcing that the state knows better than parents when it comes to their children. It seems to be be a constant chipping away at parental influence and responsibilities.
Why was it okay for parents to opt their children out in the past and now it's not a good idea?

And as Scarletlily pointed out the SRE schemes might not be as effective as those in favour would wish them to be.

MIFLAW Mon 09-Nov-09 16:46:29

"Why was it okay for parents to opt their children out in the past and now it's not a good idea?"

Well, it wasn't. And now they've put that right.

"It seems to be be a constant chipping away at parental influence and responsibilities." Only if you let it. Ultimately, whatever the school teaches your child, it is your job to check that you are happy with it and to add anything you think is missing. If your children respect you and if you appear to be speaking from a position of authority, they will listen to you (even if they pretend not to!)

piscesmoon Mon 09-Nov-09 17:40:22

I think that the home message is always more important than the school message,and it is the one that they pay attention to even ,as MIFLAW says, they pretend not to. For example my DS2 is the first to say if someone wants a day off work 'throw a sickie', I don't take him up on it because he has never in his life 'thrown a sickie' either at school or work-this is because we don't do it in our family.
I'm not sure at 15yrs that DCs should be withdrawn because of the beliefs of the parent. I find it very strange that if my mother is a Catholic I am going to be one, or if my mother is an atheist I am going to be one. I am NOT my mother-I see no reason at 15yrs that it should be assumed I am going to think the same.

MissM Mon 09-Nov-09 17:48:32

Well what would those parents' beliefs be Juuule, that enabled them to have a valid reason for not allowing children what is their right? It's one thing to object to your child worshipping a god that you don't believe in (Muslim children attending Christian assemblies for example), it is another to deny a child the right to a basic education. You are assuming that teachers teach that sex before marriage is right, that homosexuality is wrong, that you should always use contraception, to list just a small number of 'beliefs' that objectors might have.

juuule Mon 09-Nov-09 17:58:36

This from the Family Education Trust makes interesting reading. It does show where some people have concerns about SRE.

scarletlilybug Mon 09-Nov-09 18:45:00

The government's own research has shown that most people are against the move to remove the current right of parents to withdraw their children from sex education. That is why I said they have no mandate for this move and that it is highly undemocratic.

"The Government is pressing ahead despite its own research, which shows that the move is heavily opposed, with 79 per cent of the population backing the right of parents to exempt their children. One in three people in the survey of more than 6,000 said that this right should not be restricted by the child’s age. "

Here.

From same feature:
"Under current rules, schoolchildren must be taught the biological facts of reproduction, usually during science classes. Every school has a sex education policy, but at present there is no statutory requirement for teaching about relationships or the social and emotional side of sexual behaviour."

So let's be clear - the new rules are not about simply teaching the basic "facts of life" - such lessons are already statutory in all state schools.

I oppose this move on principal, because I see no justification in this case for the government removing one of existing rights of its citizens. And to those of you who think the state should have more power... I would just say, be careful what you wish for.

Wiki definition of a totalitarianism:

"Totalitarianism (or totalitarian rule) is a political system where the state, usually under the control of a single party or faction, recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible....."

MIFLAW Mon 09-Nov-09 19:07:26

Scarlet

That isn't what you said AT ALL>

You said

"Even when what "the State" defines as being the curriculum is in clear opposition to the wishes of a majority of parents? Where is the mandate for that?"

implying that the CONTENT of the curriculum is unpopular - whereas, when you produce the quote, "79 per cent of the population backing the right of parents to exempt their children" - in other words, this is based on the principle, not the content, and also it is clear that the question has been couched in terms of what these people are for, not what they are against.

Also, the "Family education Trust" don't sound like a neutral group to me ...

MIFLAW Mon 09-Nov-09 19:09:19

And you've never answered my question. Should this right to opt out be extended to all subjects at all ages? What would be an acceptable basis and how would a parent prove he or she qualified? And how would the wishes of the child - the one who will be relying on whatever information is passed to him or her - be taken into account?

MIFLAW Mon 09-Nov-09 19:10:44

FWIW I don't think the government should have more power.

I think religious pressure groups and their individual sympathisers should have less.

piscesmoon Mon 09-Nov-09 19:24:39

'And how would the wishes of the child - the one who will be relying on whatever information is passed to him or her - be taken into account?'

That is the really important part-how would the DC with a very forceful, domineering parent be able to have a voice?

juuule Mon 09-Nov-09 19:40:00

"'And how would the wishes of the child - the one who will be relying on whatever information is passed to him or her - be taken into account?"

That's a good point. How are the wishes of the child currently taken into account when the state rules that they must take compulsory subjects or even that they are not prepared to offer certain subjects that the child might be interested in.
Is it okay for the state to have ultimate say in what education a child receives but not okay with parents of the child having a say?

How does that square with the ECHR Protocol 1, Article 2
which provides for the right not to be denied an education and the right for parents to have their children educated in accordance with their religious and other views.

Perhaps if it's up to the child, then once they get to ks4 they can opt out of whatever subject they want to. If we are saying that they are old enough to make decisions of their own then why not?

piscesmoon Mon 09-Nov-09 19:54:58

I don't think they should opt out of any. I think that you should remember that they are 15yrs old and so by that point they are doing core subjects and options. They have managed to drop subjects that they don't want to do e.g. history, geography, DT. Therefore it might be a good time to make the sex education into modules and they choose which ones they want to attend.

I don't think there is an ideal solution. I don't like the idea of having state control, but neither do I like the idea of the parent telling their DC what they have to think and I'm not too sure that the DC having the choice is a good thing.

I think it was much better when I was at school-they just got on and did it-I don't think there was even an awareness that you could opt out!

tatt Mon 09-Nov-09 20:56:57

I would not withdraw my own children from sex education classes, certainly not at 15. However I'm not happy at the way the subject seems to be taught in my children's school. The emphasis is so heavily on defining your own moral standards that they seem to lose track of some standards actually being more useful to society.

So I would like my children given factual information about e.g things like the rate of relationship breakdown. Teenage pregnancy may not always be a bad thing but it is more likely to create problems than deferring pregnancy a bit.

I don't agree with forcing a particular set of moral values on children. The literature on the FPA website does push a particular moral stance. Unless there is also discussion about different moral views and why some people might hold them then I think parents should be able to withdraw their children from lessons based on that sort of literature.

MIFLAW Tue 10-Nov-09 01:04:21

"Perhaps if it's up to the child, then once they get to ks4 they can opt out of whatever subject they want to. If we are saying that they are old enough to make decisions of their own then why not?"

Indeed, why not? If there's one thing this country's desperately short of, it's illiterate, innumerate, emotionally immature young people. Let's have more of them, I say!

MIFLAW Tue 10-Nov-09 01:06:22

"I don't agree with forcing a particular set of moral values on children."

So you are also, presumably, against the compulsory Christian-based worship element - OUTSIDE lesson time - in State schools?

Refreshing to find someone who agrees so heartily with what I believe - thank you!

juuule Tue 10-Nov-09 08:03:01

Oh dear, MIFLAW, what a depressing view you have of young people.

My father left school at 14y and was neither illiterate or innumerate. Whether he was emotionally immature I have no idea, but he worked for 4years before doing his national service, after which he met his wife, married after 2y and had a family. He seemed to do quite well despite not having the 'advantage' of SRE education at 15y.

MIFLAW Tue 10-Nov-09 11:29:24

You are right.

Educational standards in this country were never higher than when the majority of working class children left school at 14 and went straight to work.

It would be especially suited to the services-based economy we now have.

Let's bring it back.

MIFLAW Tue 10-Nov-09 11:32:18

Let's not forget, too, our "gold standard" treatment of pregnant teenagers at that time or the thriving microeconomy of cottage industries such as unprescribed pharmaceuticals, amateur abortionists and small-time prostitution that those glory days spawned.

AND you could leave your back door open.

juuule Tue 10-Nov-09 12:24:57

Yes at one time 14y could leave school and go into work because there was actually work there for them to do. Maybe if todays 14yo could find employment that was worth something and made them feel like a useful part of society some of them might not be so tempted into illegal activities in order to earn money.

juuule Tue 10-Nov-09 12:32:10

And you know, MIFLAW, regarding educational standards, I do wonder when I see a handwritten application for a job from my father when he was 14 that would put to shame a lot of 14yo that I know at present.

I agree that there have been improvements but I think some things are possibly a step too far. And how do you reconcile compulsory SRE against a parents wishes with the ECHR article mentioned earlier.

MIFLAW Tue 10-Nov-09 12:36:43

"Yes at one time 14y could leave school and go into work because there was actually work there for them to do. Maybe if todays 14yo could find employment that was worth something and made them feel like a useful part of society some of them might not be so tempted into illegal activities in order to earn money."

I am slowly coimng to the conclusion that you are not sane.

What work, exactly, do you imagine them doing? Do you think we should go back to a primary and secondary industry based economy, with all the sacrifices that that entails, just to keep 14 year olds off the street?

And how do you square the apparent conundrum of a 14 year old - ie a child - being old enough to fill an adult job of work but not old enough to learn fact-based information about adult relationships?

MIFLAW Tue 10-Nov-09 12:41:06

I am pleased that your father had excellent handwriting.

The sad truth is that a lot of children left school either not fully literate and numerate, or else being literate and numerate at the expense of everything else (other languages, for example, or an understanding of history). This is no longer a sustainable model for modern society.

And it squares perfectly with the ECHR article because you do have that right - as long as you pay for it or else do it yourself. The protocol does not guarantee state provision of your needs, only your right to have them recognised.

juuule Tue 10-Nov-09 12:48:50

MIFLAW I think you would consider anyone who doesn't agree with you insane.

scarletlilybug Tue 10-Nov-09 13:27:34

MIFLAW - I think we'll just have to agree to differ on this one.

I remain perplexed by the way you seem to positively embrace the withdrawal of rights from parents in favour of the state. Because this is what is happening here - it isn't a new right being granted, it's an existing right being removed. Even if you think it is a good idea in this particular instance, can't you see the inherent dangers? Who knows what parties may come to power in the future? BNP? And when children are indoctrinated with all the rubbish about miscegenation and so on... will you still think the State knows best?

Full text of article 2, for your information:

"No person shall be denied a right to an education. In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions. "

Still, how lucky we are to have finally reached that level of educational nirvana when all children leave school at the age of 16 fully literate and numerate and well-informed about a wide range of topics and issues! The State does such a good job at teaching the basics, it's obviously going to be the ideal choice for teaching SRE to children and teenagers....

TheShriekingHarpy Tue 10-Nov-09 14:41:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

tatt Tue 10-Nov-09 14:50:01

MIFLAW I can't be bothered to go back over these pages to see who said what and when but I really doubt I'd share your views.

If my children go to any collective act of worship then it's had no impact on them as they don't seem to think their school has one. I have more important things to be concerned about.

MIFLAW Tue 10-Nov-09 14:50:47

Scarlet

Re full text

"In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions."

You do have that right to "ensure" - the syllabus is not secret and, if you decide you don't like it, you also have the right to withdraw your child from State education.

I am "in favour of withdrawing rights" because this should never have been a right in the first place. The most dominant the State has ever been in this country is when the State was tightly controlled by the Church. Anything which further weakens this ridiculous bond is potentially a very good thing.

Seeing that we're talking about principles, and not facts, how do you feel about the dangerous precedent set by the State in removing the right for parents to beat their children, the right for husbands to rape their wives, the right of parents and employers to put children to work at the age of 10 or even 5, and the right of publicans to serve intoxicating liquor to children? Are these also rights we should be sorry to see the back of?

Juuule - sorry to disappoint you, but, much as I disagree with Scarlet, I don't think she is insane.

That's because she's not proposing a utopia reminiscent of the Khmer Rouge's Year Zero as an alternative to compulsory sex ed.

TheShriekingHarpy Tue 10-Nov-09 15:07:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MIFLAW Tue 10-Nov-09 15:12:32

I meant that, say, 100 years ago, the right to beat children - ie with a belt or stick - was thoroughly enshrined.

No one complains about that valuable right being stolen by the state, yet apparently this is a principle we should all live and die for.

scarletlilybug Tue 10-Nov-09 21:40:40

"The most dominant the State has ever been in this country is when the State was tightly controlled by the Church."

Which particular stage of history would you be referring to, then?

MIFLAW Tue 10-Nov-09 23:15:37

Obviously it depends on your definition of "dominant" but I'm thinking late medieval and Tudor - prescribed (and proscribed) behaviour, sexual activity, belief, thought, speech ...

Thogh I will grant you that, in another sense, the state at the time seemed less dominant in some respects, because they were so ill-equipped to catch people at it.

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