Sex education videos used in schools are to be given age ratings for the first time amid evidence that growing numbers of concerned parents are pulling their children out of classes.
From February, the government will scrap a regulation which exempts sex education videos from age classification. So for example, the BBFC will decide whether sex education videos are PG rated and so suitable for primary school. If the
depictions of sex in the videos are anything more than implied and the language is goes beyond mild references and innuendo , they will be effectively banned from primary school. Also schools will be told to send parents
letters detailing the content of sexual education videos before they are shown in class.
The new policy follows 'outrage' over a sex education video made by Channel 4 called Living and Growing . The video included a segment for eight year olds showing a naked cartoon couple chasing each other around a bedroom with a feather
before having sex. Another segment, aimed at children from five, asked them to name the body parts on a drawing of a naked man and woman.
Ed Vaizey, the culture minister, said:
Ensuring children are protected from inappropriate content in the best way possible, is vitally important. The new classifications will mean that children are better protected from harmful content and parents will have the information they
need to make confident decisions about whether certain DVDs are suitable for their children to watch.
The BBFC will be given the powers after a consultation found that teachers were concerned that growing numbers of parents, particularly from ethnic minority backgrounds, are pulling their children out of sex education classes. The
consultation, conducted by the BBFC, also assessed parent's concerns about Channel 4's controversial Living and Growing DVD, which was shown in thousands of schools. Teachers said that the feather duster scene, in which a cartoon couple
chased each other, conveyed a message that sex is fun and something for children and teenagers to be excited by .
David Austin, the head of Policy at the BBFC, said:
We hope to help schools and help parents find out more about the content of sex education videos before their children see them. What we haven't tended to look at [in the past] is sex education videos for younger children.
There was a lot in the [Living and Growing] video that was suitable. There was one with a cartoon with a woman straddling a man having sex, there was another of a man chasing a woman with a French tickler.
Parents didn't like that, and the company has started selling an edited version.