Graphic lessons in schools have proven to be a failure by any measure

I nearly choked when I read what the FPA's Frances Bird had to say.I have suggested several times in this column over the years that the world has gone mad and I have never had cause to resile from that view.

In fact, there is plenty of evidence that it is getting even madder.

Can you imagine a female schoolteacher standing before a class of 15-year-old girls and simulating for their edification the noises she makes while in the throes of sexual orgasm?

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Can you imagine 14-year-old schoolgirls being taught how to roll what one of them called "yucky and sticky" condoms on to plastic penises?

Can you imagine children as young as 12 being taught in class about oral sex and boys being told it's acceptable to play with a girl's private parts so long as "she's okay with it"?

Can you imagine a class of 12-year-old boys discussing with their teacher the things they could do besides having intercourse, and the teacher suggesting oral sex since it "wasn't sex" and "won't inevitably lead to sexual intercourse", then adding that anal sex was another option?

Can you imagine those same boys being told to lie on the floor together with their eyes shut and imagine the world was predominantly homosexual?

All those things are happening in our schools right now, as this newspaper has reported this week, and if that's not madness, then I don't know what is.

I nearly choked when I read what the Family Planning Association's health promotion director Frances Bird had to say. In one breath she said that international research showed a good-quality, comprehensive sex education programme could make a significant difference. And in the next she said that New Zealand has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the developed world and that children as young as 12 are sexually active.

Considering that FPA-backed sex education programmes have been used in schools for more than 25 years, any sane person who looks at the facts must come to the conclusion that they have been an abysmal failure. Over that time the number of teenage pregnancies, the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, the number of abortions and suicides have all soared.

According to the Ministry of Youth Development, births to 15- to 19-year-olds have been rising since 2000. The birth rate increased between 2001 and 2008 from 27.5 births for every 1000 women in 2000 to 33 births to the 1000 in 2008. There were 5185 births to this age group in 2008 compared with 3787 in 2000. The ministry says the teenage birthrate is still fifth-highest in the developed world at last count. This country also has among the highest rates of STDs, abortions and suicides in the developed world.

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The tragedy is that the whole sex education thing is predicated on the spurious proposition that sex between consenting children is on about the same level as having a meal together or going to the movies. And that is a dreadful, dangerous, damaging lie.

The horrific result is that thousands of our children are today finding themselves abused, impregnated or poxed because they've been taught how to do it.

And far from encouraging them to delay sexual relations, it encourages them to experiment. In children that is only natural.

There seems to be no emphasis put on abstinence, yet there is plenty of evidence that children given lessons in safe sex are more likely to have intercourse younger, and that children taught abstinence are more likely to delay having sex than those given lessons about contraception.

One American study last year divided 662 black children aged 11 to 15 into four groups. Each was given a different type of education - eight-hour abstinence-only classes; lessons on safe sex; classes using both approaches; or lessons on general health with no sex element. The study, reported in the journal Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, found that two years later, 33.5 per cent of abstinence-only students admitted having had sex, against 49 per cent of each of the other three groups.

Professor John Jemmott, of the University of Pennsylvania, who led the federally funded-study, said it showed that abstinence classes could be effective in curbing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

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"Abstinence-only interventions may have an important role in delaying sexual activity until a time later in life when the adolescent is more prepared to handle the consequences of sex," he said.

But what really gets me is that our sex education is devaluing what can be one of life's most glorious experiences. It takes no account of the emotional and spiritual dimensions of the sex act, the means by which two, a man and a woman, can become one flesh. Rather, this so-called sex education is in fact child abuse and is tantamount to paedophilia. It is not just misguided, not just ill-thought-out, not just dangerous, it is utterly evil.

garth.george@hotmail.com