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Friday, 6 April, 2001, 23:00 GMT 00:00 UK
Pupils 'learn about sex from soaps'
sex education class
Only 6% thought sex education was teacher's job
Only one in three adults think it is a parent's responsibility to explain the facts of life to their children, a survey suggests.

Nearly two thirds of adults believe children learn about sex from television and magazines, the study for the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) found.


It is vital that the peddlers of popular culture for children face their responsibilities with the same degree of care

Gwen Evans, ATL
And only 6% of parents think it is a teacher's responsibility to give pupils sex education lessons.

Deputy general secretary of the ATL, Gwen Evans, said, in the light of this, the media should take as serious a stance on sex education as teachers did.

"Given that most children learn about sex from outside the classroom, it is vital that the peddlers of popular culture for children face their responsibilities with the same degree of care," she said.

Of the 188 people questioned for the survey, 63% believed children's views of the world were influenced by pop song lyrics.

Ms Evans said that figure might alarm parents, given the controversy over the work of some artists, such as the American rapper Eminem.

'Soap opera syndrome'

Nottingham teacher and ATL member Ralph Surman said the survey showed the danger of what he called "soap opera syndrome".


I fear for the future of a responsible, caring society

Ralph Surman, teacher
"Soap operas have tackled a host of important issues within our society," he said.

"Children may find fiction and reality hard to separate, and learn behaviours quickly.

"The long-term effect is that behaviours are mimicked and not seen as unacceptable, but part of the daily routine of life.

"I fear for the future of a responsible, caring society."

Details of the survey - carried out by MORI - were released two days before the ATL's annual conference gets underway in Torquay, Devon.

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See also:

24 Oct 00 | Health
Parents 'ignoring sex education'
12 Nov 00 | Scotland
Minister under fire over sex advice
13 Nov 00 | Education
Plea to 'get tough with girls'
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