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NICE Draft Guidance on SRE & Alcohol

Issued: 17th June 2010

Response from stakeholder Christian Voice

Christian Voice is a Christian prayer and lobby group.  We represent a mainly Evangelical Christian constituency.  We take issue with the Draft Guidance for the following reasons:

1 No doubt sex, relationships and alcohol education in schools and colleges can be improved as the Guidance and accompanying Press Release state, but the composition of the NICE Programme Development Group which drew up the guidance was overwhelmingly from the sex education industry.  For example, Simon Blake, Chief Executive of the child-sex lobby group Brook, was on it.  There were also representatives from Stonewall, the Sex Education Forum and the Family Planning Association.  What such people mean by 'improved' is more explicit sex education at an ever-younger age with more distribution of condoms coupled with the promotion of homosexuality.  That is abusive, not done with the best interests of children in mind and is not what parents or children say they want.

2 The Guidance claims its scope is 'mainly aimed at, school and college governors, school heads and teachers, college principals, lecturers and tutors, commissioners and managers in children's trusts and children's services, local authorities and primary care trusts.'  However, NICE does not have responsibility for the majority of those groups.   The NICE Draft Guidance fails to say what relation it has to the Statutory Guidance issued in 2000 by the Department for Education, now the Department for Children, Schools and Families.  The DfCS&F have said that 'the only guidance that schools are legally bound to have regard to is the Sex and Relationships Guidance July 2000.'

3 NICE reports to the Department of Health, and Schools do not come under the DoH, and therefore the DoH and its quangos do not have any say in what goes on in schools.  However, Primary Care Trusts do come under the DoH and their employees are regularly to be found in schools in England .  In short, we oppose the NICE Guidance being applicable to Schools and thus being in conflict with the DFCS&F.

4 Section 4.1.1 of the published scope of the NICE guidance says it should apply not just to schools and colleges, which are DFCS&F territory, and not under the DoH at all, but to 'education other than at school, including home education'.  What status would such guidance have amongst home educators, and how would it be disseminated?  We oppose NICE Guidance being applicable to Home Educating Parents and their children on the grounds that such is not the business of the DoH..

5 We disagree with the NICE assumption that education whether 'high‑quality' or not about sex, relationships and alcohol helps children make 'responsible decisions and acquire the skills and confidence to delay sex until they are ready'.  We disagree that 'evidence demonstrates that this type of education delivered as part of a planned and timetabled programme by trained and confident teachers helps children and young people better understand their own physical and emotional development'. We know of no research or evidence that any form of sex, relationships and alcohol education helps children to be healthier and we note that NICE has not cited any.  Indeed, on pages 32-33 and 71-72 of the Draft Guidance, the limitatiions of the existing evidence are admitted.  Studies were mostly from the USA , provided 'little infoprmation about teaching methods', 'lacked detail about comparators,' 'tended to be based on theory', and had 'insufficient high quality data'.  The Programme Development Group members were thrown back on their own opinions and prejudices, which the Guidance descrtibes as 'their experience.'  (p32)

6 Over the last twenty years, as more and more explicit sex education has been given, emphasising a reliance on condoms as supposed protection against sexually transmitted diseases, sexually transmitted diseases have increased dramatically, with as many as 10% of young people having been infected with Chlamydia, which causes infertility.  That is illustrative that the decline in the sexual health of children correlates strongly with explicit sex education and/or with the distribution of condoms among the young.

7 The Biblical witness is that parents have a God-given responsibility for their children's education, and nowhere is this mandate stronger than in the field of personal, including sexual morality. The Bible says:

And thou shalt teach (these words) diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. (Deuteronomy. 6:7)

And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)

Furthermore, the Lord Jesus Himself said: 'It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!  It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend (that is, to cause to stumble) one of these little ones.'  (Luke 17:2)

8 We believe sex, relationships and alcohol education should targeted higher than merely giving young people 'skills and confidence'.  It should also emphasise the Christian morality upon which our nation was built.  In terms of personal relationships, that begins with the words of Christ, recalling the Book of Genesis: 'But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.' (Mark 10:8)

The Biblical witness is for chastity amongst the unmarried and fidelity in marriage.  It can be argued that it is the job of the State to support these ideals, for their own sake, out of our Christian heritage, and because the alternatives have a negative impact on the national finances.

9 We disagree with the NICE recommendation 'that children from primary school age upwards are given sex and relationships education'.  We regard that as grooming these children for sex, a violation of their innocence and child sexual abuse.

10 We disagree that it is the place of any school to promote perversion whether under the banner of 'tolerance, inclusion and diversity' or at all.

11 We disagree that sex and relationships education 'should start in primary school'.  Furthermore, in an interview on BBC Radio Northampton, the Director of Public Health at NICE, Professor Mike Kelly, who was also director of the guidance project, backed away from the suggestion that Primary School was the right place to start, saying that sex education should only start in secondary school.  It should only start 'When a child reaches maturity,' he said.  Primary school would be the place for exploring relationships, which he said meant 'friends, brothers and sisters, mother, father, neighbours.'  Biology would be taught in the 'later part of the primary school curriculum', but 'dealing with the sexual behaviour proper would be something that takes place in secondary school.'  However, the NICE draft guidance clearly states: 'Ensure education about sex and relationships and alcohol starts in primary school.' (p10) and the Press Release said 'Ensure education about sex and relationships and alcohol starts in primary school.'

12 We disagree that parents are there to be 'reassured' 'that sex and relationships education does not promote early sex, increase rates of sexual activity or increase the likelihood of sexual experimentation.'  There is no evidence to support such a statement and evidence is now growing that talking about such subjects and distributing condoms advances the onset of sexual activity in children to whom it might not have occurred.  In other words, parents are right to view such education as irresponsible.

13 We disagree with Gillian Leng, NICE Deputy Chief Executive, who said: 'We know a planned PSHE education programme which progresses throughout a child's time in education helps them understand the importance of valuing and having respect for others. It can also give them the ability to make sense of the world around them and make responsible decisions.'  We note that NICE has advanced no evidence to support this opinion and we say that NICE devalues its own currency when its personnel make prejudiced and opinionated statements which masquerade as fact and which are unsupported by evidence.

14 On the Radio Programme cited, Professor Kelly said he was 'saying the opposite' to that 'the school should take over from parents'.  'Sex education', said Professor Kelly, 'should be done in partnership between schools and parents and that is something our guidance clearly states'.

The Guidance does not say what the Professor claimed.  We read that 'nurses in schools and colleges ... should conform to health service consent and confidentiality guidance,' in other words, fix children up with contraceptives and abortions behind their parents' backs, but there is nothing about a 'partnership' between teachers and parents in the NICE draft guidance at all.  Professor Kelly was not telling listeners the truth.

15 We disagree that teachers should fill parents with liberal propaganda: For example: 'Explain to parents' that sex and relationships education is really good, 'Parents should be aware' that abstinence education is useless, 'Reassure parents that sex and relationships education does not promote early sex', 'Offer parents the opportunity' to help their children develop 'negotiation skills', and so on (pp8-9).  There is no defence or reference for any of these statements, of course.  They are liberal dogma, articles of faith in the morality-free zone of sex and relationships education.  NICE devalues itself by repeating them.

16 Professor Kelly spoke about the 'skill-based approach' in the Guidance which 'is about how to say no - if that is appropriate'.  The idea of giving children 'skills' so they can 'negotiate' is something borrowed straight out of the homosexual world, where negotiating what sort of sex should take place with a complete stranger picked up in a bar may be, literally, vitally important.

17 Faith is mentioned in the Guidance eleven times, 'belief' four and the word 'cultural' is used on nine occasions. But mere lip service is being paid.  Those planning PSHE should 'promote sensitivity to diverse faith and cultural beliefs', it says, for example about 'sexual orientation and abortion.'  However, the Guidance does not say these beliefs should be respected.

Instead, 'Discrimination and prejudice should be discussed and challenged,' the draft guidance proclaims (p12).  As diverse faith and cultural beliefs are to be found mainly in people of non-white-European heritage, this statement in the NICE Guidance is racist.  It is also culturally imperialistic to want to force decadent Western attitudes on people of different descent.  Christian Voice has many black African/Caribbean and Asian members who strongly demand their cultural diversity be respected, not patronised in the racist and discriminatory way the NICE Guidance proposes.

18 Professor Kelly said he 'has evidence that if done well, if done properly, sex education can reduce teenage pregnancies.'  We challenge him to produce this evidence and debate it.  To take him at his word, sex education must have been done really badly over the last forty years to leave our teenage pregnancy rate as one of the highest in Western Europe . Are we expected to entrust the same people who delivered it then to force it on a fresh generation of vulnerable children?

19 On page 17 of the draft guidance, it states: Those involved in the planning and teaching of PSHE should 'Set clear health goals - for example, to prevent sexually transmitted infections (STI's)'.  The 'specific behaviour' children should engage in to 'achieve' this goal is 'using condoms and reducing the number of sexual partners to prevent STI's.'  The Guidance fails to say what reduction in numbers of sexual partners will achieve the goal of preventing sexually transmitted infections   Does 20 a month achieve the goal?  Or 10?  Or 5?  Two perhaps?  The Guidance does not say 'reduce sexually transmitted infections', it clearly says 'prevent sexually transmitted infections'. But no matter how many condoms are used, someone is living in a fantasy world if he thinks merely 'reducing the number of sexual partners' will achieve such a goal.  In fact the goal is achieved by chastity (staying a virgin until marriage) and fidelity (keeping to one partner in marriage). 

20  The American Centre for Disease Control (CDC) says that condom use only 'reduces the risk' of contracting a range of STI's, it does not eliminate it. 'Epidemiologic studies that compare infection rates among condom users and nonusers provide evidence that latex condoms provide limited protection against syphilis and herpes simplex virus‑2 transmission,' says the CDC website.  So the advice given, to wear a condom and reduce (to what level?) the number of partners is not in accord with the evidence.  Such advice falls far short of the clinical excellence to which NICE strives.

21 A clear majority of fifteen and even sixteen-year-olds are still virgins.  A compassionate and responsible sociaty would help and support them along that path.  It is of concern that certain adults are rather too keen that children should be fornicating.  Some may be driven by the money to be made in the contraceptive and abortion industries, but others must derive some vicarious pleasure from the thought of children engaging in sexual activity.  Either way, they are misleading and failing the young.

22 Because the NICE Guidance leans so heavily to a highly-prejudiced view in which children are there to be sexualised, and because it is in conflict with the 2000 DfE Statutory Guidance, we say it should be withdrawn completely.