as young as five should be given sex education lessons, experts have
The measures are aimed at cutting teenage
A report from the Independent Advisory Group on Teenage Pregnancy
says it should be part of the statutory curriculum for all key
The first key stage covers children aged five to seven.
The Department for Education and Skills currently recommends
primary schools have a sex and relationship education programme,
which should ensure children know about puberty and about how a baby
would not be taught the mechanics of sex under the proposals.
Instead, it could be touched on in discussions about where babies
come from, if a child has a new brother or sister.
Personal social and health education, which includes sex
education is already compulsory in secondary schools.
Gill Francis of the National Children's Bureau, who is the
advisory group's deputy chairman, told BBC News Online: "What is
important is that children are able to talk without shame or
embarrassment about all the aspects of their life, and have adults
around them who can answer the questions that they have.
"If children acquire a brother or a sister, then they are going
to ask questions - and the gooseberry bush won't wash.
"So you would tell them 'Mummy and Daddy love each other and
wanted to have a baby'."
She added: "If you establish this ability to talk about these
things in the very early years, then when the time comes for more
detailed discussions about sex later on, the children have a hook on
which to hang the new information.
"This should be happening in every school."
But Robert Whelan of the campaign group Family and Youth Concern
said: "We are opposed to sex education in primary schools. It is far
"It is a form of child abuse. You are robbing children of their
innocence and giving them information they are not ready for.
"You're taking away their childhood."
A spokeswoman for the Department for Education and Skills said
the government had no plans to change its policy on sex education in
"Schools are expected to consult parents on the policy on sex and
"They need to inform parents about what's being taught.
"And parents have a right to withdraw their children from health
and relationship education."
Other recommendations from the advisory group's national report
include a national advertising campaign to reassure children under
16 their parents will not be told if they seek contraceptive advice.
It also recommends boys and young men should be targeted in
efforts to cut teenage pregnancy rates.
The report said many saw sex and relationship education as
It recommended young people from black and ethnic minorities
should also be targeted.
There has been a fall in the number of teenagers becoming
pregnant, with a 10% reduction in conceptions amongst under 18s, and
an 11% fall amongst under 16s since 1998.