Children as young as 6 years old are learning "rules" for genital "self-stimulation" through a new sex-education program in the U.K. titled All About Me, the Daily Mail reported.
Warwickshire County Council is rolling out the program across 241 primary schools, the outlet said, adding that other counties could add All About Me next year as part of the government's Relationship and Sex Education overhaul.
What are the details of the program?
The Daily Mail said it obtained documents related to All About Me that instruct teachers to tell students between 6 and 10 years of age about "rules" for "touching yourself." The "rules about self-stimulation" explanation appears in the Year Two lesson plan for 6- and 7-year-olds, the outlet added.
In the Touching Myself section, teachers are instructed to tell students that "lots of people like to tickle or stroke themselves as it might feel nice" and that it may include touching their "private parts" — which is "very normal" and not "dirty," the Daily Mail said.
Kids are warned it's "not polite" to touch themselves in public, and that it's acceptable to do so alone in a bathroom, shower, or bed, the outlet said, adding that students are quizzed on scenarios that are "OK" and "not OK."
One scenario involves a girl named Autumn who "likes to touch herself between her legs" when she's alone in a bathtub as "it feels nice," the Daily Mail reported.
All primary schools will be required to teach compulsory relationships education starting next September as part of the government's RSE reforms, the outlet said, adding that next year parents won't be allowed to withdraw children from these lessons.
Warwickshire County Council said the lessons are "tailored to the age and development level of the children" and that "while some of the material may be sensitive for some, we believe it is important for children … to get clear and consistent information about this important but often overlooked subject," the outlet added.
'Effectively sexualizing very young children'
Politicians who had supported the RSE reforms voiced concern, the Daily Mail said.
Member of Parliament David Davies told the outlet, "I and many other parents would be furious at completely inappropriate sexual matters being taught to children as young as six. These classes go way beyond the guidance the government is producing and are effectively sexualizing very young children."
Parents at Coten End Primary School in Warwick met sex-education consultant Jonny Hunt, one of the All About Me creators, in June and questioned the content, the Daily Mail said — specifically self-stimulation instruction.
"This is not sex education but actually information around safe and appropriate touching," Hunt said, according to the outlet. "However uncomfortable adults may find it, children of all ages will self-stimulate from time to time. They may do this when anxious or simply because it feels nice."
'They won't use the term masturbation'
Naomi and Matthew Seymour, whose two sons attend Coten End, told the Daily Mail they strongly disagree with Hunt's assessment and because they're concerned their sons will be exposed to issues they're "not ready to hear," the couple removed them from school for the week during which the program was taught.
"My wife cried the first time she read what was going to be in the lessons," Matthew Seymour, 38, told the Daily Mail. "This sexualization of our children is just totally inappropriate. They are calling it self-touching and they won't use the term masturbation, but when you read it, that's exactly what they're talking about. We don't want to start picket lines and wave banners. We're just an ordinary family. I think many families who had seen these lesson plans would feel the same way we did."