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February 21, 2003 at 1:55 pm Leave a comment

Government urges under-16s to experiment with oral sex
By Glen Owen, Education Correspondent

A GOVERNMENT-backed course is encouraging pupils under 16 to experiment with oral sex, as part of a drive to cut rates of teenage pregnancy. Family campaigners believe that the course, called A Pause, is having the reverse effect by exciting the sexual interest of children. The scheme, which has been pioneered by Exeter University and is backed by the Departments of Health and Education, trains teachers to discuss various pre-sex “stopping points” with under-age teenagers. It aims to reduce promiscuity by encouraging pupils to discover “levels of intimacy”, including oral sex, instead of full sexual intercourse. More than 100,000 children are now taking the course at one in every thirty secondary schools. It forms part of efforts to tackle Britain’s teenage pregnancy rate, which is the highest in Western Europe.

Robert Whelan, director of the Family Education Trust, said he hoped that the Sexual Offences Bill, currently going through the House of Lords, would lead to the course being banned. A provision in the Bill would make it an offence for anyone to “arrange or facilitate the commission of a child sex offence”.

He said: “I don’t think anyone believes that teaching pupils about oral sex will stop them having full sex — it is more likely to make them want to try it, and it doesn’t protect them from sexually transmitted diseases.”

John Rees, programme manager for A Pause, said that he was keen to teach children that “it is acceptable simply to hold hands” and to discover different levels of intimacy.

“We make it clear that there are many ways to manage relationships — that it doesn’t all have to be about full sex,” he said. He added that he was “very worried” that the Bill would end the scheme.

Lynda Brine, a teacher from a Doncaster comprehensive who recently attended a training day for the course, says in today’s Times Educational Supplement that she was primed to deal with detailed questions about oral and anal sex. “I was amazed. Are these really the sort of questions to which we as a profession should be responding?” she writes.

“There was no framework for talking about responsibility or the emotional side of relationships. By following this course, I feel that teachers are implicitly supporting under-age sexual activity.”

Entry filed under: media.

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