Sex education could become compulsory in schools to protect children against pornography

Credit: This story was first seen on The Telegraph

A minister has hinted that sex education could be made compulsory in schools to protect children against pornography and sexting, The Telegraph reports.

The government provided its strongest indication yet that it is receptive to  change in the law that would see sex and relationship education (SRE) a statutory requirement.

Ministers have faced mounting pressure from across the political spectrum to bring about the change following concerns children are being left ill-equipped to cope with the new realities of online porn, cyber bullying and sexting.

During a commons adjournment debate, education minister Caroline Dinenage said it is important that children and young people “have access to effective, factually accurate, age appropriate, sex and relationship education”.

She added: “This is a subject the Government takes very seriously and we have welcomed the extremely helpful input from many members across the House.

“The government is very committed to exploring all the options to improve delivery of sex and relationship education and personal, social and health education, and to ensuring we address both the quality of delivery and the accessibility – to support all children developing positive, healthy relationships and being able to thrive in modern Britain.”

The comments came as figures released by the charity Plan International UK found that more than eight in 10 Britons support SRE being compulsory in all schools – private and state.

Conservative, Labour and Green MPs all pressed the minister on whether the government will back legislative proposals to change the law.

Labour MP Stella Creasy (Walthamstow) said there is recognition across the Commons “that this is the right thing to do” and raised concerns that with Brexit looming the capacity for the government to bring about legislative change further down the line may be diminished.

She urged the government to back an amendment to the Children and Social Work Bill, which is making its way through Parliament, which would make SRE mandatory.

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Responding, Ms Dinenage said: “The Secretary of State has been very clear that we will set out plans to move forward as part of that bill.”

Pressed again on if the government will make the lessons compulsory, the minister said: “Yes, we have agreed we are looking at it as we speak and we will set out our next plans for inclusion in the Children and Social Work Bill. But this has to be got absolutely right, it needs to be done sensitively, it needs to be done carefully, it needs to be done with cross-party support.”