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Teen 'sex' booklet under fire

Family rights campaigners have attacked a new sex and relationship guide aimed at 13-16 year olds.

The Family Planning Association (FPA) booklet, called Love, Sex and Relationships, contains explicit descriptions of oral and anal sex and advises children to tell their partner how they would like to be `turned on' before engaging in intercourse.

Anne Weyman, the FPA's chief executive, said that the 16-page leaflet aims to help teenagers make sense of highly sexualised images and messages seen in the media every day. But family rights campaigners have criticised it for `normalising' under-age sexual activity.

The booklet uses colourful cartoons to explore a range of topics - from body image to bisexuality and chat-room romance. It clarifies the difference between celebrities' body image and the average teenager and says that they should not feel that they are in a `race' to meet their partner. It also addresses sexual orientation, different sexual acts, and stresses the importance of contraception to protect against unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.

Norman Wells of the Family Education Trust, said: ìRather than persisting with the same old, tired fatalistic approach [that young people are bound to have under-age sex] we need to give them a positive and much more radical message. We need to tell them that saving sex for marriage is a positive choice that brings with it a host of physical, emotion and psychological benefits.î

However, Anne Weyman added: ìYoung people are getting a huge amount of information about sex all the time. They need accurate information before they become sexually active. This booklet does not encourage them, quite the reverse. It says that many people wait until they are over 16. It talks about not being pressured. It says knowing about sex doesn't mean you have to do it.î

The booklet meets curriculum guidance for personal and sexual health education for secondary school pupils. A spokesman for the Department for Education and Skills said: ìIt is up to teachers to use their professional judgment to decide which resources best support the school's sex and relationship education programme.î

2nd September 2008

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