Experts call for NICE to resume work on sex education halted by the coalition government

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 03 December 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f7217
  1. Ingrid Torjesen
  1. 1London

Sex education in schools is outdated, providing teenagers with too little information too late, leading to many engaging in risky behaviour and a high rate of teenage pregnancies, sexual health experts have warned.

They have called on the government to allow the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to resume development of guidance that would modernise sex education programmes so that they encompass the role of sex in a loving relationship as well as the biology of sex and the risks associated with it.

NICE was asked to develop guidance on “personal, social, health, and economic education, focusing on sex and relationships and alcohol education” in 2007 by the then Labour government. However, development of the guidance, which was due to be published in final form in 2011, was halted by the coalition government after the publication of a draft in 2010.1

The draft said that sex education classes should begin in primary school, with pupils starting to learn about friendships and respecting others. “Factually accurate, unbiased, and non-judgmental” classes tailored to each age group should continue from then on, covering sex, relationships, and alcohol to help youngsters understand the risks and consequences of their actions and resist peer pressure.

Last week, in a reply to …

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