In Summary

29th February 2008 at 00:00
FIVE TIPS FOR SCHOOLS

Teach pupils to understand diet and the role that food plays in helping them to grow. Involve them in the process of growing and preparing their own food.

Do not overlook the emotional role of food. Instead of focusing solely on eating less and exercising more, think how food helps you enjoy life.

Ensure that pupils are given full-fat milk during breaktimes. Skimmed milk is designed for adults, not for growing children.

Realise that children in their early teens are often sexually active, according to the Sex Education Forum. It is better to provide them with information early so that they can make informed choices and, if they do have sex, they do so safely.

Do not anticipate parents' reactions. Often they are scared of broaching sensitive subjects and so welcome sex and drugs education in school, even at an early age.

FIVE TIPS FOR TEACHERS

Know your limitations: child and adolescent psychotherapists take four years to train, so do not expect to be able to do their job. Instead, refer pupils to relevant agencies.

Build up links with specialist agencies. And recognise they have busy schedules too: do not change appointments at the last minute.

Recognise that children are more than the sum of their academic achievements: ensure time for sex and drugs lessons is as sacrosanct as the literacy and numeracy hours.

Recognise your own taboos around sex: if you are uncomfortable discussing periods, for example, seek training rather than assuming it is not a relevant topic for pupils.

Recognise that sex education is a continuing process and when different levels of information are appropriate. For example, if a 5-year-old asks, "Where did I come from?", you can answer honestly without launching into a detailed description of conception.

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