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Sex and Relationships Education Digest

May 2016

The government released updated guidance ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’, which is due to come into effect in September 2016. Alongside a number of other changes, the section relating to PSHE education has been strengthened. The updated section now states that governing bodies ‘should ensure that children are taught about safeguarding, including online, through teaching and learning opportunities’ (the previous guidance had only suggested schools should consider providing such opportunities). A list of all amendments as well as the updated guidance document can be accessed here:

An article in the Lancet calls England’s Teenage Pregnancy Strategy - which included high quality sex and relationships as one of a range of measures - a ‘hard-won success’, based on a review of its contribution to declining teenage abortions and births in England, and increased maternal participation in work, education and training, between 2000 and 2013. Full paper:

The Spectator also covered the findings of the study, in an article entitled ‘How good government often goes unnoticed and unrewarded’

Times coverage of the inquiry into child sex abuse inquiry set up following revelations about Jimmy Savile, mentions the role of universal sex education, stating that Chief Constable Simon Bailey, the national police lead for child protection and abuse investigation, had warned that “police would be dealing with 200,000 cases a year by the end of the decade if sex education were not improved.” In a previous Times article Chief Constable Bailey had called for pupils to be taught about the dangers of sexting and online pornography to help to prevent child abuse and exploitation.

Channel 4 Presenter Cathy Newman writes for Telegraph Women: “Without compulsory sex education our girls are facing a lifetime of online abuse”

 

June 2016

A report into the impact of online pornography on young people, which was commissioned by the NSPCC and the Office of the Children’s Commissioner suggests that more than half of young people aged 11-16 have been exposed to online pornography and that significant numbers (of young men in particular) believe that what they have seen portrayed is realistic and want to emulate it. Many also stated that in the absence of high-quality education on the subject, they had looked to pornography to learn about sex, while others had been exposed to it through pop ups and via social media rather than seeking it out deliberately. Read the report:

The Women and Equalities Select Committee have been taking evidence as part of their inquiry into sexual harassment and sexual violence in schools. They have published an initial report taking young people’s views on these issues which concluded that ‘sexualised behaviour was the norm’. The report, alongside a library of all the written evidence submitted to the inquiry and transcripts of oral evidence can be found here.

The inquiry has been covered across news media, including:

Harassment: Girls 'wear shorts under school skirts'

Schools tackling sexual violence should focus on boys, MPs told

Teachers 'ignoring sexual harassment of girls', MPs told

 

July 2016

Conservative MP Maria Miller, Chair of the Commons Women and Equalities Committee and former Culture Minister, has said that sex and relationships education should become statutory.

An investigation by Good Morning Britain has found that under-18s are becoming victims of revenge pornography, with sexual images of them being shared on social media platforms. A Freedom of Information request by GMB found that 38 police forces in England and Wales had received reports of 2,130 cases in total, with one in six of these involving under 18s.

Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw has raised concerns about ‘organised resistance to the PSHE curriculum and the promotion of equality’ in some Birmingham schools, in a letter to the Education Secretary Nicky Morgan. The letter assessed improvements put in place by schools to keep pupils safe, including from the threat of radicalisation, since Ofsted's 2014 inspection of Birmingham Schools in response to the so-called ‘Trojan Horse’ affair.