Calls for compulsory sex ed as government fails to address sexual violence in schools

MPs say government response to the problem does 'not do enough'

 

The government is under fire from MPs today for its continued refusal to implement compulsory sex and relationships education (SRE) in schools, despite evidence that two-thirds of young women are experiencing sexual harassment or violence at school.

In September, parliament’s Women and Equalities Committee published a report on the ‘shocking’ levels of sexual violence in schools in September, calling on the government to impose a statutory obligation for schools to tackle the problem.

Instead, the government response, published today, advocates a ‘holistic school-based’ approach, within which the government will be support schools as they ‘produce their own new codes of practice.’

In other words, the government will not establish a core set of requirements for SRE, instead allowing schools to develop their own curriculums in accordance with their ethos. This was also the policy of David Cameron’s government, and risks students getting biased or curtailed sex ed, which avoids difficult or ‘controversial’ subjects.

The current guidance on SRE is also seriously out-of-date, an issue the government response side-stepped, saying its frameworks were under review.

‘The scale of the problem of sexual harassment in schools demands a robust and urgent response from those who take responsibility for our children’s safety when they are at school,’ commented committee chair Maria Miller MP. commented

‘Schools are responsible for fostering the best environment for young people to learn; fear of sexual harassment, or worse, should not be part of that.’

She continued:

“We will continue to scrutinise action in this area and work with others to hold those responsible to account for any failure to ensure that all our children are safe and can thrive at school. In particular the Government needs to prioritise action to ensure Sex and Relationship education reflects the realities of the 21st century rather than the pre-smartphone age when guidance was last updated.”

The National Union was more forthright in its criticism of government inaction.

Rosamund McNeil, the union’s head of Education and Equal Opportunities, said it was ‘remarkable’ that the government ‘is continuing to overlook the role of PSHE and SRE in schools’.

“We need to invest resources and focus on developing this as a high quality subject in every school so that every child has the same chance to benefit from personal, social and health education. Parents understand that growing up is complicated and can be challenging. They expect schools to help teach students about relationships, safety and equality.”

The committee’s initial report found that 29 per cent of 16-18 year old girls have experienced unwanted sexual touching at school, while 71 per cent of all 16-18 year olds hear terms such as “slut” or “slag” used towards girls at school on a regular basis.

See also: British women deserve the protection of the Istanbul Convention

One Response to “Calls for compulsory sex ed as government fails to address sexual violence in schools”

  1. Sex Ed in the News

    […] Members of Parliament (MPs) in the UK recently published a report on the dismaying levels of sexual violence in schools across the country, calling for the government to impose rules that require schools to tackle the problem. But government officials have just released a response advocating for a “holistic school-based” approach, wherein the government would support schools as they “produce their own new codes of practice.” MPs are not pleased. […]

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