A coalition of women’s rights, education, child protection, sexual healthcare and young people’s campaign organisations today launched a pop up campaign to give backing to plans to amend the Children and Families Bill to make sex and relationship education a part of the National Curriculum. Following on from the One Billion Rising Campaign and widespread concerns about the sexual harassment and abuse of young people, Labour Shadow ministers Lisa Nandy, Sharon Hodgson and Stella Creasy have tabled a new clause to the bill to ensure relationship education is taught in schools. Shadow Home affairs minister Stella Creasy said:
“For too long now we’ve had warm words but no action on improving sex and relationship education in our schools, despite repeated calls for all boys and girls get these lessons. When we’re teaching children about compost and compound interest but not consent something has to change. Sexual harassment, violence and abuse affects millions of young people in Britain –that’s why we have to teach them not only about the biology of sex but to respect each other and have healthy relationships. This coalition shows just how many parents, domestic violence and sexual health charities agree as well as young people themselves. Hoping schools will do this isn’t good enough – its time to put consent on the curriculum”
Shadow Education Minister Lisa Nandy said:
“Recent research by the Children’s Commissioner found a shocking number of young people don’t know what a good relationship looks like. This should be a wake up call that we are simply not doing enough to keep children safe. Education is vital to help young people protect themselves from harm. Child abuse is sickening but it is not inevitable and we have a duty to prevent it. Children have a right to expect that from their Government.”
Women’s Aid Ambassador Jahmene Douglas said:
“As the Ambassador for Children and Young People at Women’s Aid I feel passionately that young people should be taught about healthy relationships in school, and that we need to do this if we are ever going to reduce the amount of domestic violence. Following the debate in Parliament in February this Bill presents the Government with a great opportunity to ensure that all children have access to the good quality sex and relationship education they need and are asking for.”
Laura Bates, the Campaigner behind the Everyday Sexism Project said:
“The huge number of stories the Everyday Sexism Project has received from children and teenagers shows beyond doubt that there is an urgent need for far greater information and support to be provided in schools. Many of the young people who contact us are confused and scared about sex they have seen videos shared online or on mobile phones. Others have reported the far end of the playground being called “the rape corner” and young people saying “rape is a compliment really” in classroom discussions. It is time to ensure this most vital of topics is properly covered by the national curriculum”
New Clause 20 of the Children and Families bill will come before parliament on Tuesday 11 June 2013. This campaign has the support of Womens Aid, End Violence Against Women, Brook, Family Planning Association, NSPCC, The PSHE Association, National Union of Students, No More Page3, Everyday Sexism , the EQUALS coalition and the Terrence Higgins Trust.
- This campaign is formally supported by Womens Aid, End Violence Against Women, Brook, Family Planning Association, NSPCC, The PSHE Association, No More Page3, National Union of Students, Everyday Sexism , the EQUALS coalition and the Terrence Higgins Trust. Mumsnet will also be promoting this campaign and willing to give quotes.
- Research by Women’s Aid shows 50% of 16-18 year olds wouldn’t know where to go to get support if affected by domestic abuse and 18% were unsure or didn’t believe slapping counted as domestic violence. YouGov found almost a third (29%) of 16-18-year-old girls say they have been subjected to unwanted sexual touching at school, and the NSPCC found that a third of girls in relationships aged 13-17 have experienced physical or sexual violence in relationships, while one in 16 of this group reported experiencing rape.
- Polls consistently show overwhelming support amongst parents, the public and students for compulsory SRE at secondary level in particular. NAHT poll of parents http://www.naht.org.uk/welcome/news-and-media/key-topics/parents-and-pupils/parents-want-schools-to-manage-dangers-of-pornography-says-survey/ and EVAW poll http://www.endviolenceagainstwomen.org.uk/news/98/womens-groups-urge-pm-to-take-urgent-action-to-prevent-abuse
- The Deputy Children’s Commissioner’s recent report on children’s access to porn found that it is widely available and that there is a clear correlation with harmful attitudes and behaviours. There are clear gender differences, with girls feeling much more uncomfortable when they are exposed to porn, and boys more willingly seeking it out. The report recommended that “The Department for Education should ensure that all schools understand the importance of, and deliver, effective relationship and sex education which must include safe use of the internet. A strong and unambiguous message to this effect should be sent to all education providers including: all state funded schools including academies; maintained schools; independent schools; faith schools; and further education colleges.” http://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/content/publications/content_667
- EVAWs report Deeds or Words? developed with experts on violence against women found that education policy was a weak link in government work on preventing abuse and called for compulsory SRE, amongst other measures. http://www.endviolenceagainstwomen.org.uk/data/files/Deeds_or_Words_Report.pdf
- Ofsted recently found that PSHE is not good enough in a substantial proportion of schools and that this is leaving young people vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/not-yet-good-enough-personal-social-health-and-economic-education-schools
- The Government recently announced plans to put gardening on national curriculum http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/public/school_meals/article1251936.ece and to put personal financial education on curriculum http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/9855051/Personal-finance-education-to-be-compulsory.html
- New Clause 20 will be debated on Tuesday 11 June 2013 as part of the Children and Families Bill in the House of Commons. The Report stage of the Children and Families Bill will be on Tuesday 11 June 2013. This bill covers a mixture of legal issues around children and young people including adoption, care and education. Labour has tabled amendments to this Bill which would ensure that all schools provide sex and relationship education for all students. If the amendment is passed it will go to The House of Lords to be debated as part of the wider Bill including passage through Committee.
- The One Billion Rising Campaign brought the following motion to parliament which secured cross party support for the issue:
“That this House notes the One Billion Rising Campaign, and the call to end violence against women and girls; and calls on the Government to support this by introducing statutory provisions to make personal, social and health education, including a zero tolerance approach to violence and abuse in relationships, a requirement in schools.” http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmhansrd/cm130214/debtext/130214-0002.htm#13021465000001
Full text of the proposed New Clause 20 can be read here