In some of my Statistics lectures this week, we had a quick revision session on the subject of bias – the problem of inadvertantly (or, if you’re a very bad scientist, deliberately) influencing a study in some way.

Clearly, I am a terrible scientist, because my weekend news-surfing only features what happens to interest me at the time. On the other hand, what has caught my eye this week ties in rather nicely to the meeting last Tuesday. Minutes of meetings will now be published the following week, so details of what was said will have to wait a couple more days, but the main ground covered was a discussion about Sexism (and thence to Sex) in Education. Fascinating stuff, and all the more so since the recent news about the UK sex education shake up.

In varying degrees of hysteria, the press has been dissecting the news that Key Stage 1 children are to be taught age-appropriate material on sex and relationships. In order of panic-inducing, we have:

Relationship lessons from age 5” from the BBC

Sex education to begin at 5 in all schools” from the Guardian

Children aged 5 to get sex education” from the Telegraph

Pupils as young as 5 to be given sex education” from the Times

Compulsory sex education for pupils as young as five could become law” from the Daily Mail.


Look at the difference – at the top of the scale, not a mention of the word “sex”. At the other extreme, not only is it now ‘sex’ education, it is ‘compulsory’, and it is for ‘pupils as young as 5’.

Interesting.

Putting all of the sources together, a picture begins to emerge. It would seem that the government has now realised that sex education for UK children is not brilliant, to say the least. And so, rather commendably, they are trying to do something about this. I am impressed, even if I do feel it could have come a little earlier.

Now, although I have said that I am not a good statistician, I know that there are some lows you should not stoop to. In consequence, I am not going to relate any of my various anecdotes on the subject and claim that this “proves” anything about our sex education as it is at the moment – although I would dearly love to.

What I will say is that pretending that relationships, sexuality and sex don’t exist is clearly foolish. We’re talking about children who have just started school. Yes, I know – as young as five! These children as young as five will see pregnant women, probably fairly often. If they have little siblings, they might have an inkling of where they came from. If they don’t, one of their classmates will. There are going to be some answers to the question “where do babies come from” – and if teachers aren’t allowed to provide it, that won’t stop the kids talking.

Also, as an aside, the Daily Mail article quotes a news story about a leaflet produced for six year olds by the Family Planning Association. Their concern? That children “would be asked to name genitalia”. What on earth is wrong with that? Genitalia are the external parts of the sexual organs – you know, the bits we can see. It’s frankly ridiculous to think that children won’t want to know what to call them. However, I’m going to stop there, because attempting to argue seriously with what the Daily Mail spouts is about as much use as arguing with a man who blindly insists that it’s a Tuesday when it is, in fact, Thursday.


And, on that note, I leave you with news (a little belated, admittedly) that the 67th Carnival of Feminists is now up at Jump Off The Bridge.

The 68th carnival will be held at Fourth Wave Feminism, which I’ve mentioned before and is certainly worth a read.

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