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Parents Shouldn’t Tell Kids What’s Right or Wrong about Having Sex: U.K. Gov’t. Pamphlet

Kathleen Gilbert,

LONDON, February 24, 2009 ( – A pamphlet set for distribution by the British government is advising parents to keep quiet on the morality of sex, and instead to ensure that their children are provided with contraception from an early age and are aware of their options, the Sunday Times revealed.
According to the Times, "Talking to Your Teenager About Sex and Relationships" will be distributed in pharmacies starting March 5th as part of an initiative by MP Beverley Hughes, the Children’s Minister, to instruct parents how to address their children’s sexuality.

The news of the government’s plan to release the pamphlet follows widespread news coverage of the case of a 13 year old U.K. boy, Alfie Patten, who recently became a father. Alfie’s story has been widely received as emblematic of the U.K.’s troubles with high rates of teenage pregnancy, and sparked a national discussion about the problem.

"Discussing your values with your teenagers will help them to form their own," says the new pamphlet. "Remember, though, that trying to convince them of what’s right and wrong may discourage them from being open."

The document reportedly suggests that parents should start the "big talk" with children as young as possible. Parents are also encouraged to ensure contraception availability for children as young as 13.

"Under the NHS, contraception and condoms are free and there are lots of safe and effective methods that are suitable for young people – encourage your teenager to visit their local clinic or GP so they can make a choice that’s right for them," says the pamphlet. "Why not offer to go with you daughter or encourage them to take a friend to support them?"

Commenting on the new instructions, MP Hughes said that the government "doesn’t bring up children but … it does have a role to play in supporting parents and giving them access to advice and information."

Conservative MP Maria Miller condemned the plan as "profoundly misguided."

"Advice from Government that tells parents not to talk to their children about what is right and wrong when it comes to sex and relationships is profoundly misguided," Miller told the Daily Mail. "It is not the role of Government to marginalize the critical role that parents have to play in helping their children form their values."

Simon Calvert of the Christian Institute also attacked the leaflet. "The idea that the government is telling families not to pass on their values is outrageous," said Calvert. "Preserving children’s innocence is a worthy goal. We would like to see more of that kind of language rather than this amoral approach where parents are encouraged to present their children with a smorgasbord of sexual activities and leave them to make up their own minds."

British-based social researcher Dr. Patricia Morgan says the plan goes against data showing that teenagers are generally willing to heed their parents on the topic of underage sex. "All the evidence from the United States is that if parents say they disapprove of underage sex, the teenagers are less likely to do it," said Morgan. "If parents talk about underage sex and do not disapprove of it, the children go on to do it. It is pretty basic stuff.

"Parents are not allowed to know if their child is being given contraception or getting an abortion. But they are being told to teach their children about sex in a manner dictated by the State," she added.

Additionally, the FPA (formerly the Family Planning Association) has been given £530,000 by the Government to train parents in teaching children about sex.

The UK has recently attracted notoriety for its high teen pregnancy rate, which continues to grow despite Labour Party attempts to reverse the trend by ramping up contraceptive use and sex education.