Views And Reviews

How should mandatory sex education be taught?

BMJ 2017; 357 doi: (Published 11 April 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;357:j1768
  1. Pandora Pound, research fellow
  1. School of social and community medicine, University of Bristol
  1. Pandora.Pound{at}

Can sex and relationships education be effective if it’s not delivered in a way that is acceptable to young people?

The government has announced its intention to make sex and relationships education (SRE) statutory in all secondary schools, and to make relationships education statutory in all primary schools.1 This is very welcome news.

It is 17 years since the government last issued guidance on SRE and during that time huge changes have occurred.2 There have been important positive developments, such as increased gender equality, and a transformation in attitudes towards sexuality, as indicated by the increasing number of countries introducing same sex marriage laws.3

At the same time, however, mobile phone technology and widespread internet access have altered how young people learn about sex, bringing exposure to online pornography and new risks such as cyberbullying, sexting, and …

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