Deep disappointment at Government refusal to make Sex & Relationships Education compulsory
10 February 2016
Responding to the announcement by the Education Secretary Nicky Morgan today (10 February) that the Government will not make Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) compulsory in schools, Sarah Green, Acting Director of End Violence Against Women Coalition, said:
“We are deeply disappointed that the Education Secretary has confirmed today that the Government is not currently minded to make Sex and Relationships Education compulsory in all schools.
“Girls and young women experience high levels of sexual harassment and violence, in school and outside of it (1). High levels of abuse are reported in teenage relationships, and pressure to exchange sexual images is common. Girls and boys receive conflicting and confusing messages from online pornography and parts of popular culture about sexual consent. Sadly, some girls and boys are also dealing with serious abuse at home or in the community (2).
“Despite this, there is still no guarantee that young people in school will get the chance to talk about abuse, and the attitudes that make excuses for it, with trusted adults who are well trained.
“Every expert in these fields is calling for SRE to be made compulsory as one critical step towards better protecting young people and to preventing abuse in the future. Indeed, today’s announcement follows a call for compulsory SRE from four esteemed Select Committee Chairs.
“We hope the Government will keep the door open to further dialogue on this matter. We note the Education Secretary’s commitment to improving the quality of the SRE that is voluntarily provided. Young people cannot achieve their best, nor develop strong ‘character’, unless they are empowered to name, challenge and reject abusive behaviour which too often stops young people getting the best out of their education.”
- A YouGov survey for EVAW in 2010 found a third of girls had experienced sexual harassment at school and that sexual name-calling was common; an FOI investigation by the BBC in 2015 revealed that around 200 rapes in schools are recorded by the police each year.
- The Children’s Commissioner’s interim report on child sexual abuse in November 2015 revealed that victims commonly approach trusted teachers for help but that schools do not have the policies and training to respond well to this.