October 23, 2008 / 3:47 PM / 11 years ago

Sex education to become compulsory in England

Western tourists kiss during sunset near Kuta beach on the Indonesian resort island of Bali, May 28, 2005. REUTERS/Darren Whitesid

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Sex education classes will become compulsory for primary and secondary school children in England to help reduce Britain’s high rate of teenage pregnancies, the government is expected to announce on Thursday.

The Daily Telegraph newspaper said Schools Minister Jim Knight will unveil the move when he publishes the findings of a review of sex and relationship education.

Earlier this month, Knight told MPs that many young people had told the review they did not know enough to make safe and responsible choices about relationships and sexual health.

Although teenage pregnancy rates have fallen 13 percent over the past 20 years, Knight said there is still further to go. Britain has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Western Europe.

“I have received many strong representations for making personal, social and health education statutory in order to address the problem,” he said.

The government set itself a target in 1999 to half the teenage pregnancy rate by 2010.

At present schools only have to teach pupils about the biology of puberty and reproduction. In primary schools, sex education comes under the science curriculum.

The new curriculum is expected to increase greater emphasis on building relationships, the Daily Telegraph said.

Reporting by Tim Castle, editing by Paul Casciato

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