Of course, in an ideal world, all children would get sex education from their parents by them answering questions honestly and simply as they are asked thus accepting it as with any other part of growing up. Unfortunately not all parents are able or willing to do this and the children pick up a lot of misinformation from their peers or the media and get a very distorted view of it all. I was constantly amazed at the amount of ignorance I met in my life as a midwife.

Unfortunately we don’t live in an ideal world and the very children who most need the information, to prevent them falling into the same traps of teenage pregnancy which their parents fell into, are likely to be the very ones who don’t  either through ignorance or indifference.

I was fortunate that my parents answered all our questions honestly and frankly so I grew up knowing that babies did not appear under gooseberry bushes or from doctors bags.

The only trouble with this system was that if we didn’t ask the questions we didn’t get the answers, thus I never heard of homosexuality, which was still illegal then, until I started nursing and came across it and a kindly Staff Nurse  told me about it! On second thoughts maybe it as well we didn’t know about it as I would have been convinced we were all “gay” when we were about 13 and had “crushes” on the games mistress and stars on the athletic field!

The only time my father volunteered information was when we were on holiday with several members of our extended family. He took my brother off for a walk along the beach and imparted the biological facts of conception. He told B not to tell the rest of us as we were too young to understand. B was about 11 so I would have been 8. Needless to say but B couldn’t wait to gather us into our den in the sandhills  in order to pass this astonishing knowledge on to us (me and the cousins ranging in age from 4 to 10!)

In the way of Chinese whispers, the information I passed on to my best friend Jill was that “The squirms swim up the Virginia and into the egg! For some time after this I regarded the Virginia creeper which grew up our back wall with great suspicion for some time after this and watched for “squirms”

If sex education can be done simply, sensitively and without giving too much graphic information in the early stages and giving equal importance to relationships and possible consequences, maybe this is the way forward to a more enlightened generation who will not feel the need to experiment before they are mature enough to take responsibility for their actions.

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