What is the need for a Sustainable Sex and Relationship Education Programme?
Despite increasing sexual freedom, the availability of contraception, abortion and divorce, changing work force and gender-roles, societies all round the world are in trouble about sex, gender and relationships. In fact, contrary to initial impressions, Western society remains unaware of the deep foundations of sex and gender. The ubiquitous commercialisation of sexual imagery, a choice of sexual identities, and pornography at the click of a mouse have only confused cultures recently emerging from centuries of sexual repression and patriarchal morality.
“I wish I had had this knowledge when I was a teenager” is the consistent feedback we receive from workshop participants over the years – including therapists, teachers, doctors, counsellors and priests. For those adults who wish to engage in this process we recommend the workshops outlined on this website. But the situation for the young is much more critical.
For our young people are without any credible guidance and hardly know how to regulate their instincts. According to the recent UNICEF report Britain has the largest incidence of teenage pregnancy in Europe and the unhappiest adolescents. Most adults lack the skills to link sexuality to parenting and to provide a creative but stable base for their children. Religious leaders have little of relevance to say on these subjects, because their models derive from a philosophic base in which the body was seen as a source of sin and woman as an obstacle to man’s spiritual progress. Instead of having our sexuality as a natural and central part of who we are, modern Westerners are subject to over-excitement but are, in fact, out of touch with themselves.
In what way would our approach to sex education differ from that currently used in schools?
As currently practised in Britain, sex education is under-prioritised and fundamentally misplaced. Systemically, it is a classic example of addressing the symptoms rather than the cause. Telling children about condoms and the dangers of sexual disease will therefore never be enough. The real problem is much deeper. Our work addresses the depth of the problem in its cultural context and allows people to return to their natural body instincts rather than running on over-stimulated reactions, which we see as a recent response to centuries of ignorance and taboo.
In our approach we are child-centred, seeing sexuality as the prime developmental process. We know that children need to have congruent and realistic age-appropriate sexual responses from adults in general and parents in particular. Children never want to be involved in sexual acts with adults, nor do they want adult ideas of sexuality 'projected' onto them; what they do want, is a real response, primarily from their parents. This is essential; the wrong response or none at all simply won’t do, because children are sexual, relational beings, brought into the world - as we all are - through the sexual relationship of their parents.
Our work has shown us that if children and young people are naturally and appropriately related to as sexual, relational beings by informed adults, whom they can respect and trust, they may not need to instruct each other from a basis of fantasy, over-excitement and ignorance. They will be less likely to have intercourse just to find out about it or under pressure, less likely to get pregnant as teenagers, and much more likely to become, in turn, good parents - which in itself is a sexual role.
What difference will our approach make?
• Our work involves relearning natural body-instincts, distinguishing between Relationship and Identity issues. Post-modernist approaches usually confound the notions of Gender Identity with Sexual Orientation. Teasing out this confusion has been a major study for us.
• We are concerned that attempts at sex education which fail to take the above into account will be rejected then kids themselves, since young people know instinctively that their sexuality is connected with a sense of their own dignity as developing men and women, regardless of sexual orientation, religious or cultural background.
• We provide understanding how children need to be responded to as sexual beings, seeing sexuality in a changing developmental age-appropriate context, and healing the bridge between teenagers and parents – who, despite popular notions - are badly needed during adolescence.
• Our aim is that children begin to experience themselves as self-regulating beings. They will shift from what we call being externally stimulated to being internally stimulated. This means that they will become better at resisting peer-group pressure and able to make sexual choices out of their own aware body-motivation.
• They will be able to have open dialogues with their parents about sexual issues. The effectiveness of the latter has been recently highlighted in an extraordinary BBC television programme, entitled 'Sex with Mum and Dad'.
• They will still want to experiment sexually, but they will base their sexuality in the context of relationships, and they will feel less alone with this complicated subject. They will be less likely to rush into full intercourse, let alone bear children before they are emotionally mature and in committed relationships.
How to implement these ideas?
The problem with sex in Britain is of course not just in the schoolchildren. Our children merely present us with symptoms and behaviors rooted in a profound ignorance regarding sex and intimate relationships, which affects the whole of society. By supporting parents and other key adult figures - such as teachers - to better understand the innate, sexual nature of their children and the age-appropriate correct responses, we can begin to address the underlying issues of the current crisis.
In July 2008 we gave a presentation to the Sex Education Forum hosted by the National Children’s Bureau. We now developing startegies and investigating further platforms on which to present our ideas.
Should it prove successful, the publicity from this initiative will have hugely positive repercussions in education and political circles, where sex-education is a low priority and a political hot potato. It may pave the way for a new national model.