Chloe Gray | Contributing Writer | Wednesday, 1 March 2017

The Government Has Finally Decided To Let Sex Ed In School Be A Thing

The Government Has Finally Decided To Let Sex Ed In School Be A Thing

The Debrief: But why did it take so long?

The announcement that sex ed will be compulsory in schools has finally come. After waiting for years for the government to catch up with the idea that we need to teach the kids how to be safe before/during/after sex, the amendment was expected yesterday. Only it didn’t come. After another 20 hours of waiting (and worrying they would change their mind), the Department of Education finally announced that 21st Century Sexual Relations Education is finally part of the curriculum. Hurrah!

In a statement, the DoE said: ‘Under an amendment to the Children and Social Work Bill, all primary schools will be required to teach age appropriate Relationships Education and all secondary schools, including independent schools and academies, will be required to teach Relationships and Sex Education.’

The government have also acknowledged that current guidance for relationship and sex ed, which was introduced in 2000, is ‘outdated’. If by that they are referring to putting a condom on a banana, we agree. Now, the lessons will focus on ‘risks to children which have grown in prevalence in recent years, including online pornography, sexting and staying safe online’. 

The change has been welcomed by Rachel Krys, Co-Director of End Violence Against Women, saying: ‘The need for RSE for all children and young people has become urgent because of what we know about abuse and harassment in young people’s lives - including girls and young women being disproportionately subjected to relationship abuse, sexual violence and harassment, sexual exploitation and abuse online. The rapid development of smart phones, social media and online porn make the need for compulsory RSE more urgent than ever.

'This is a real step forward in ending violence against women and girls and we commend the Government for listening to experts and responding.’

Also full of praise is Tanya Barron, chief executive of Plan International UK, who described the policy as ‘common sense’: ‘Education on subjects such as sexting and the impact of pornography in secondary school is what young people themselves are telling us they need. It's our responsibility to listen to them.  

'Sex and relationships education is a vital means of equipping children to deal with the challenges they face – especially girls. We know, for example, that reports of sexual harassment within schools have more than doubled in recent years, with girls disproportionately affected. We know that children are likely to have seen pornography and received sexualised messages in secondary school. This is the reality of the age of the internet and smartphones.’

Until now, only 1 in 7 people had received any sort of sex education, even though 99% of people thought that it should be taught in schools.

Parents will still have the option to opt-out, and schools will have flexibility over how and what they actually teach their kids, so let’s hope the teachers are as woke to the issue as the government appears to be. 

It's worth remembering that the devil is in the detail when it comes to legislation. We haven't seen the detail yet, but we'll keep our fingers crossed this everything we hope it will be. 

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