Children as young as five are to be taught about parts of the body, relationships and the effects of drugs, under reforms to the national curriculum announced by the British government Thursday.
All state school pupils in England are in future to receive compulsory lessons in sex, relationships, drug use, personal finance and first aid, in both primary and secondary schools.
Schools Minister Jim Knight was concerned sex and relationship education was patchy, and that it was failing to tackle Britain's unusually high rate of underage pregnancies and rising levels of sexually transmitted infections among the young. Last year, the number of abortions for girls under the age of 16 increased by 10 per cent, to 4,376.
According to the U.K. Youth Parliament, four out of 10 young people say they received no relationship education at school.
“We want to be clear we’re not talking about five-year-olds being taught about sex. At Key Stage 1 they will be learning about themselves, their differences, their friendships, how to have strong friendships and how to manage their feelings.
“That then allows them in Key Stage 2 to learn about puberty and then about the facts of life, all these sorts of matters.”
He added that five-year-olds could be taught topics such as the differences between men and women as well as that animals produce offspring.