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All the news that’s fit to, er, what now?

Journalism 101 from the Daily Mail today. Here’s the lede paragraph:

Children as young as four are set to be given compulsory sex education in primary school classes, it has been revealed.

So far, so straightforward. Kids will be given compulsory lessons about sex from the age of four. Second para:

They will be taught about the names of body parts and basic ideas about different relationships.

So it’s not really the kind of sex education suggested in the lede at all, then, because the four year olds won’t actually be taught about, you know, sex. In fact, reading on, it transpires that the classes are to be “sex and relationship education”. Third para:

Government advisors claim that ‘gradual education’ from such a young age would help children not rush into sex when they are older.

But who are these “government advisors” – given that the lessons are “set to be” given, they are presumably commenting on some new policy? No. As the ninth paragraph reveals:

But the fpa (formerly the Family Planning Association), Brook and the Sex Education Forum are recommending the introduction of compulsory lessons.

So in fact this is a recommendation from three charities during a consultation, not government policy of any kind and therefore not something that’s going to necessarily be implemented. This is drummed home in the (er, extremely prominent) 21st paragraph:

A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families insisted that no final decision has been made by Ministers on the subject yet.

So the lessons aren’t necessarily about sex, and they may yet not happen. All in all, a more accurate lede would be: Charities have recommended that the Government should introduce sex and relationship education into the national curriculum gradually from primary school onwards.

But then that sounds so, you know, reasonable.

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