Monday 6 June 2011

Myth Busting Monday: '7 year olds are putting condoms on bananas'

So, since this meeting is taking place in London tonight to get together some like-minded opponents of Nadine Dorries’ recent plans to introduce abstinence education in schools and ‘independent’ pre-abortion counselling we thought we’d be topical and touch on one of her oft repeated myths: That children in primary schools are being taught how to put on condoms using bananas.

Here’s Dorries on her own blog claiming that:
“Girls as young as seven are taught about intercourse, safe sex, how to apply a condom on a banana, where to get condoms, how to detect an STI and that they don’t need to tell their parents anything.”

And she’s repeated the banana thing in quite a few of her numerous media appearances. Now we know that Dorries' blog is, by her own admission, 70% fiction but this little nugget of fiction is particularly galling to those of us who actually work in sex education. Yes, thankfully there are some primary schools doing great SRE, but for children below 11 this focuses very heavily on the ‘R’ – relationships. By talking to children about appropriate relationships educators introduce awareness of boundaries and what is and isn’t safe.

Anyone who does work in schools/SRE will tell you that when condom demonstrations are done they a) generally take place from about Year 9 in secondary school when SRE starts to cover topics like contraception and STIs and they b) don’t tend to use fruits and vegetables but rather an appropriately but perhaps boringly named ‘condom demonstrator’ (which generally look something like this).

What’s worrying here is why Dorries chooses to roll out this myth again and again. This post on the Children’s Services Blog suggests an underlying rejection of comprehensive SRE altogether:
‘Dorries sounds alarmist. She sounds Puritan. Her objections to banana-condom practice hint at a disregard for lessons on safe sex altogether’.

So let’s file this one in the ‘70% fiction’ pile. Busted.

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