Schools told ‘sex at 13 is normal’ claim

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Schools are being offered guidance that suggests that having consensual sex at the age of 13 is normal behaviour, it has been claimed.

Sarah Carter, of the Family Education Trust, told a cross-party group of MPs she believed that sometimes what is taught in school sex and relationship lessons is not lawful.

Giving evidence to the Commons education select committee, Ms Carter highlighted recently-published supplementary guidance on sex and relationship education (SRE), which included a link to a “Traffic Light Tool” from sexual health and advice service Brook. She said that it “states that young people who are consensually sexually active from the age of 13, this is normal behaviour and development, whereas actually the law states that young person should wait until they are 16 at least, never mind if they are ready or not”.

“That’s awfully unlawful behaviour, and so quite often what’s taught in SRE isn’t always lawful.” The supplementary guidance on sex and relationships education (SRE), which contained links to a number of resources that could be used by schools, including the Traffic Light Tool, was developed and published by the PSHE Association with Brook and the Sex Education Forum. Joe Hayman, chief executive of the PSHE Association, said: “I think the only challenge with dealing with these that we’ve got to deal with children’s realities.”

Committee chairman Graham Stuart said critics might argue that to send out messages that 13-year-olds having sex together is part of growing up and “not to send out a message that it’s wrong, that it’s harmful, it’s dangerous, is in fact to almost to collude with something which we know is damaging to young people”.