Relationship and sex education (RSE) is so important. As young people enter key stages of development it is crucial that they feel empowered on their journey to adulthood and are supported to understand what healthy sexual relationships consist of.
News headlines in the last few months about young people’s experiences of sexual harassment and abuse at school shows how far society has to go in tackling abuse. On one hand, in Ofsted’s recent review into sexual abuse and harassment in schools, young people shared their frustration at relationship and sex education not being taken seriously by their school, and that many of the teachers resented having to teach the lessons. This meant that pupils did not feel inclined to take part in discussions that need sensitivity. On the other hand, research highlights that a third of child sexual abuse offences are committed by someone under 18, and that a third of child sexual abuse offences are committed by a young person towards another young person in their peer group.
We believe talking about sex and sexual abuse is not shameful, ignoring it is. We also believe relationship and sex education is important for all children. Research indicates that existing misconceptions surrounding the needs and development of children with disability has resulted in inadequate sex education for these children. This places children and young people with disability at greater risk of abuse, some studies suggesting that they are up to 3 times more likely to suffer from abuse in comparison to typically developing children (Kerns et al. 2015). This finding has been echoed by the 2021 Home Office strategy on Child Sexual Abuse, which has found that children with a long-term health condition or disability are twice as likely to have experienced sexual abuse. The strategy also highlighted that children with disabilities are among the least likely groups to disclose child sexual abuse.
In addressing the prevalence of abuse and harassment in schools, we echo the recommendations by Ofsted around improving schools’ responses to sexual violence, and relationship and sex education is a key part of the solution. More widely, Imara is actively contributing towards change against sexual violence and abuse. We are part of the Consent Coalition a group of organisations within Nottingham who are working together to raise awareness of the importance of consent, banish myths about rape and sexual violence and encourage survivors and victims to access support and report any sexual violence. As part of the Consent Coalition we are proud to share the A-Z of Consent, an educational resource that covers 26 things to know about consent.
June 24th, 2021