Recently I read Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World for the first time. I was reminded of it the other day when reading about a sex education kit being handed out to young children in Switzerland.
In Brave New World, the children who are ‘decanted’ in baby factories are raised by the State, not parents, and from a very early age are encouraged to ‘explore their sexuality’.
The sex education kit being distributed to primary school children in Basel includes models of male and female sex organs.
A teachers’ guide says
that teachers should “show that contacting body parts can be pleasurable”.
It also suggests that they should get pupils to massage each other or to rub themselves with warm sand bags, all accompanied by soft music.
In a definite echo of Brave New World, one of the people who helped develop the programme, said: “Children should be encouraged to develop and experience their sexuality in a pleasurable way”.
This, of course, brings us to the controverted question of when exactly it is appropriate to starting instructing children about sex and in what way.
At one extreme is the view that children should be taught nothing about sex until puberty (if then!), because to do otherwise is an attack on their innocence. But who actually defends such a viewpoint nowadays?
Close to the other extreme appears to be view espoused by those behind the Swiss programme, which is that children should be encouraged to explore their sexuality as early as possible.
(I say close to the opposite extreme, because it is possible to get even more extreme as this article from Der Spiegel on attempt to 'sexually liberate' children shows).
The vast majority of people are, of course, somewhere between these two extremes. They want their children to be given the basic biological facts of life as they approach puberty and after that any sensible parent wants their children to be taught, at a minimum, that sex must take place within a committed relationship, and after the teenage years have passed.
Committed Christians obviously want their children to be taught that sex belongs within marriage, but how often they get taught this, even in denominational schools, is hard to say.
Another question is, of course, whether this job belongs primarily to parents or to schools. The right answer is parents, although schools can supplement – so long as they really do supplement rather than undermine- what the parents are trying to do at home.
We worry a lot today about the sexualisation of children even though we seem to do little to counter it. For example, do we really protest against music aimed at kids that most assuredly sexualises them?
What would that Swiss sex ed programme achieve if it was introduced here? I think it’s fair to say it would hasten their sexualisation. Hopefully parents here would object to it as they did in their thousands in Switzerland. Or perhaps our media would nullify such resistance by condemning the protestors as reactionaries and the programme itself as enlightened, progressive and emblematic of a Brave New World.