Youngsters must be taught about relationships
Cambridge MP Julian Huppert is lobbying the government for youngsters to be taught about relationships as part of their school sex education.
He is concerned that sex education on the school curriculum focuses on the mechanics and biology of sex and good sexual health, but it fails to equip young people with the knowledge and language they need to talk about relationships, abuse, gender and the pressures they face.
Julian wrote to the Education Minister, Elizabeth Truss about the issue and the government’s draft science curriculum and asked what steps the government is taking to ensure children and young people will receive adequate sex and relationships education.
He said: “We want our young people to be able to talk confidently and openly about the pressures and issues they are facing, articulate their feelings and clearly describe their experiences; they can only do this with effective sex and relationship education.
“Without this teaching our children and young people will continue to struggle with social and cultural pressures and damaging experiences relating to sex and relationships.”
Julian voted in favour of an amendment to the Children and Families Bill, debated in the Commons this week, to make relationship education compulsory on the school curriculum.
Although the amendment failed to gain support, Julian promised to continue to lobby the government to improve sex and relationship education for young people.
School inspectors, Ofsted highlight the continued poor quality of sex education in the UK and the Children’s Commissioner has expressed her concerns about children’s increased exposure to sexual imagery.
Research by Women’s Aid found that 50 per cent of 16 to 18-year-olds wouldn’t know where to get support if suffering domestic abuse and 18 per cent were unsure or didn’t believe a slap counted as domestic violence.
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.
“These are worrying statistics,” added Julian. “We need to act to make sure that youngsters not only know how to recognise an abusive or destructive relationship but also where to get the support if it happens to them. By including relationships in school sex education, we make sure all our young people are better informed.”