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    Schoolkids to Be Asked to Consider Oral Sex
    Fri Feb 21,11:00 AM ET
    By Matthew Jones

    LONDON (Reuters) - British school children are to be controversially asked to consider oral sex instead of intercourse as part of a drive to cut the country's high teenage pregnancy rate.

    Sex education teachers are being trained to discuss with youngsters various "stopping points" on the road to full sex in a bid to reduce the number of teen pregnancies, the government said on Friday.

    The idea is to encourage pupils to discover "levels of intimacy," including oral sex, which stop short of full sexual intercourse.

    But the plan has been criticized as unworkable by family groups.

    "The courses for teachers are to enable them to discuss various sex and relationship issues with pupils. One of those issues is oral sex," said a Department of Health spokeswoman.

    "Oral sex is one of the 'stopping points' on the road to intercourse," she said, denying the advice was encouraging sexual activity.

    "Another 'stopping point' is to hold hands," she added.

    Family groups argue that oral sex is likely to lead to penetrative sex.

    "One thing leads to another," said Robert Whelan, director of the Family Education Trust. "It is hard enough for adults to hold back and is even more difficult for teenagers with their raging hormones."

    One teacher, who recently attended one of the courses, told the Times newspaper the advice could be construed as a green light to teens.

    "By following this course, I feel that teachers are implicitly supporting underage sexual activity," said Lynda Brine.

    Whelan also said oral sex was no protection against most sexually transmitted diseases.

    "Delaying the onset of teenage sexual activity is the only way to cut teenage pregnancy," he told Reuters.

    With nearly 39,000 girls under 18 conceiving each year, Britain has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Western Europe. The government wants to halve it by 2010.

    In line with that aim, students have already been offered condoms, oral contraceptives and easier access to counselors in schools.

    The Department of Education said on Friday sex education was determined by individual schools.

    "We give guidelines but we don't dictate what material is used," a spokeswoman said. "We trust head teachers and teachers to make sensible decisions about sex education."

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