“I think schools could help a lot in teaching what a healthy relationship is.”
Arabella is a 17 year old student with a passion for fine arts. As other young women of the same age, she has experienced forms of aggressive male sexual behaviour and she thinks that gender stereotypes and a low awareness of what sexual violence is could be challenged through compulsory sexual and relationships education in schools. Arabella thinks people should have a better understanding of discrimination against black women, as they experience racism and sexism.
Focus on policy:
What is the government’s current policy on sex and relationship education (SRE)?
SRE in the UK is compulsory from age 11 onwards in some form. Yet this predominantly looks at sex from a scientific perspective and is fairly narrow in its scope. Parents are able to withdraw their children from all elements of sex and relationship education if they choose. The type of SRE that is required differs depending on what type of school you look at. Primary schools do not have to cover sex and relationships outside of the science curriculum, academies do not have to cover SRE and council run secondary’s have to cover sexually transmitted diseases for 14-16 year olds.
What are the issues with SRE and what is PSHE?
Legislation on sex and relationship education was last introduced 15 years ago and many feel that the existing legislation is inadequate. In February 2015 the Education select Committee backed calls for compulsory PHSE (Personal, social and health education) and sex education. The committee was in favour of a comprehensive approach to sex and relationships, with sufficient teaching time and specialist training for teachers. The need for consent to be taught in schools has been emphasised by various women and education organisations. In addition to this in an age of social media and increased access to internet pornography many feel the curriculum needs to take into account these factors in order to safeguard children.
Many feel that high teen pregnancy rates, STD rates and rape cases in the UK are a consequence of having an inadequate SRE in schools. In comparison with other western European countries that have in place more comprehensive SRE and a more open approach to conversations about sex and relationships. Campaigners argue that mirroring the approach taken to SRE in the Netherlands where the focus is on instilling a sense of knowledge and responsibility in young people in regards to their sexual activity. Campaigners believe this empowers young people to make better decisions and statistics tend to reflect this.
Did you know?
7 out 10 girls over 13 report being harassed by boys at school.
You are black and a woman.
So you face racism and sexism
Write to us and share your story