Teach sex education to three-year-olds, say experts (PA)
Sex and fertility lessons should be taught to children as young as three to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies.
The claim was made at a Fertility Health Summit of leading global experts, hosted by Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
The conference heard that youngsters receive only 20% of information about fertility from official sources and often do not learn about their reproductive health until they are trying to conceive.
Those that do get any kind of information, increasingly get it online, the conference heard.
Experts said the UK should copy practices from Germany and Sweden, which uses games and social media to engage with young people.
Professor Joyce Harper, who works for the Embryology, IVF and Reproductive Genetics Group at University College Hospital London, advocates teaching sex education and fertility from a young age, and said “all boys are obsessed with their penises”.
“We need to start at primary school … maybe even younger,” she said.
"Yes, kids are going to ask about their anatomy.
“I have two boys … they asked about their penises very early.
"All boys are obsessed with their penis, so it’s a good time, as a parent, to follow that on.”
Professor Adam Balen, chairman of the British Fertility Society, who organised the summit, agreed.
“We should look at three-and-four-year-olds being introduced to ideas about where babies come from,” he said.
A new poll, conducted to mark the summit found that many 16 to 24-year-olds had "worrying gaps” in their knowledge of fertility.
The study also found the majority of young adults got their information on fertility from the internet, their friends and family and social media.
Professor Harper also stressed more effort should be made to teach online, through Youtube and social media.
She said: “We have to appreciate how young people communicate and gain information.”