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Guest blog: We need to put Sex and Relationship Education on the National Curriculum - for all

(134 Posts)
KateMumsnet (MNHQ) Sat 08-Jun-13 15:22:34

Hello all

An amendment to the Children and Families Bill currently before parliament has been tabled, which would:

1. Add PSHE to National Curriculum;
2. Make age appropriate SRE a statutory component of this curriculum at all 4 Key Stages;
3. Specify that same-sex relationships, sexual violence, domestic violence and sexual consent be part of the curriculum on PSHE

The amendment is backed by the One Billion Rising campaign and other groups including End Violence Against Women, the EQUALS coalition and Women's Aid, and will be debated this coming Tuesday 11th June. Here Lisa Nandy, the Shadow Children's Minister who tabled the motion (along with Sharon Hodgson MP and Stella Creasy MP), explains why the proposals are vital to ensure both young men and women develop positive and equal relationships with each other, and calls on Mumsnetters to contact their MP asking for her/his support.

Tell us what you think here on the thread, and if you blog on this issue don't forget to leave your URL. If you like this post, do spread the word via the share buttons at the top of the page!


"We need to do more to protect children. Recent research by the Children's Commissioner found a shocking number of young people don't know what a good relationship looks like. This should be a wake up call that we are simply not doing enough to keep children safe.

Making clear, high-quality and age-appropriate sex and relationship education part of the National Curriculum is a vital and important step in equipping children with the ability to protect themselves from abuse now and in the future. This is not just about biology - but about helping young people to develop healthy attitudes towards sex and relationships. A recent report by 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. Not only are a third of young women experiencing violence and abuse in their relationships but a third of young boys are the perpetrators of this abuse. This is clearly a significant problem.

We need to break the cycle and education is key to preventing it from happening in the first place. With children and young people increasingly exposed to sexual content online and through social media, the need for information has never been greater. According to the Children?s Commissioner, boys as young as 11 are frequently exposed to pornographic images, and the NSPCC reports calls to Childline by teenage boys who are worried about what it is doing to them. There is strong evidence of a link between explicit images and a rise in sexual aggression and harassment of the opposite sex.

Not only does good quality sex and relationships education help protect children from becoming victims of abuse, it will help children develop healthy attitudes which will prevent them from becoming perpetrators of abuse themselves. It is vital that children can make healthy and informed decisions about their lives, and develop the confidence, skills and resilience to make good choices. This is too important to leave to chance.

That is why on Tuesday we will ask the Government to support an amendment to the Children and Families Bill to deliver age-appropriate sex and relationships education in all schools and give teachers the tools they need to deliver it.

Sexual abuse is not inevitable, and we have a duty to do all we can to prevent it. Children and young people have a right to expect that from their Government. Show your support for making Sex and Relationship Education part of the National Curriculum by contacting your MP to ask them to join me in voting for New Clause 20."

amazingmumof6 Sat 08-Jun-13 18:57:40

I think I prefer to be in charge of what my children learn regarding those topics above.

I oppose any effort of them being taught anything that are in direct opposition of our beliefs.

TheFallenNinja Sat 08-Jun-13 19:39:27

Same here. You sort your children, ill sort mine.

deliakate Sat 08-Jun-13 19:57:18

I think it's a great idea. There are clearly parents around who are failing to sort their childrens' attitudes and behaviours around these things, or worse still are the root cause of some of the things going wrong. Families can be so insular, so getting things takes about in wider circles, without judgement, could really help children.

However, I do wonder about the support for teachers in schools if they are going to tackle these things. Very good training needs to be provided, and some kind of debriefing process, as it may turn into a kind of counselling role in some cases. Do the teachers have the time and resources or will things be put in place to help practically, not just more paperwork to work through.

MmeLindor Sat 08-Jun-13 20:26:02

Why would you not want your child to be informed about healthy relationships? Not being argumentative, just can't understand why anyone would want to limit the knowledge that could really affect the life of their children.

I blogged about this six months ago. It is the single most read post on my blog, with the most searched for term leading to my blog 'controlling man' and 'how to spot controlling man' and variations thereof.

Being able to recognise the difference between a positive and a negative relationship is very important. Being able to recognise controlling and manipulative people (not just men) is a vital life skill.

Flisspaps Sat 08-Jun-13 20:40:27

I wholeheartedly agree with MmeLindor.

I get really angry about people saying 'ooh, not my kids, ooh, you can't let them hear anything that might go my beliefs' as if teaching children about sex, relationships and how to be happy and safe is going to make them gay, straight, pregnant, promiscuous or anything else.

Information is what will keep them safe. The full facts. Not the edited version that some people choose to give to their kids, or worse, nothing at all.

We've got one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in Europe. The SRE info our kids get is too little, too late. In other places, particularly the Netherlands, there is a huge swathe of info about SRE given to kids, and one of the lowest teen pregnancy rates AND teens wait longer before having sex. Do people not see the connection?

If you're giving your kids all the info at home, great - there's nothing school will tell them that you won't tell them anyway.

If you're not giving your kids all the info they need to make healthy, sensible relationship choices in the future then IMO you're not parenting properly, and it's quite right that schools tell them what you won't.

SuffolkNWhat Sat 08-Jun-13 20:50:52

Completely agree with Fliss

Some of the misinformation that is still commonplace with our teenagers really shocks me when it comes to teaching SRE.

lissieloo Sat 08-Jun-13 20:51:04

I completely agree with mmelindor, I feel very strongly that children should be taught about respect and relationships from a young age.

lissieloo Sat 08-Jun-13 20:53:28

And exactly what fliss said.

meglet Sat 08-Jun-13 20:53:33

I support these changes. I don't have a problem with sex and relationship education being taught from a young age.

Keeping it a secret makes them more vulnerable IMO.

notcitrus Sat 08-Jun-13 20:57:22

Amazingmum and fallenninja, could you clarify what you are worried might be taught that might be against your beliefs?

I'm assuming you don't actually think rape or domestic violence is ok, so why not ensure that schools support you in teaching that it isn't, as well as teaching the kids who don't have such good role models as yourselves?

amazingmumof6 Sat 08-Jun-13 21:10:43

notcitrus no, I don't want to clarify my point.

those who'd agree with me will know what I mean, those who don't know what I mean will disagree anyway.

Flisspaps Sat 08-Jun-13 21:11:16

Are you talking about homosexuality and/or same sex marriage?

lissieloo Sat 08-Jun-13 21:15:34

amazingmum, so that's it? discussion closed? ohhh-kay

fliss, I think that homosexuality should be discussed as part of sex ed, for those children who are gay and confused. knowing about homosexuality doesn't make you gay.

I think the relationships thing is particularly important though, a huge proportion of teenagers will have sex before they feel ready for it, and will often find themselves in unhealthy, abusive relationships. We need to educate them and hopefully start breaking some cycles.

Flisspaps Sat 08-Jun-13 21:20:23

lissie my question was to notcitrus and amazingmum, I wonder if that is the thing they object to as it against their beliefs.

I agree, teaching about homosexuality doesn't make you gay any more than learning about Henry VIII makes them royalty.

lissieloo Sat 08-Jun-13 21:25:27

I realised after I'd posted, blush

I'm reminded of a neighbour who was totally opposed to the most recent changes to PSHE(?) to include age appropriate info about bodies etc, until she actually found out what it included. She was in an abusive relationship for years.

SuffolkNWhat Sat 08-Jun-13 21:28:06

Ah so it's the "catch teh ghey" issue hmm

Same sex marriage is covered as part of RE too so I guess those children are withdrawn from that too.

Flisspaps Sat 08-Jun-13 21:32:42

Suffolk - that's my guess, neither of the two posters have responded.

It could be contraception in general or sex outside marriage.

MmeLindor Sat 08-Jun-13 21:47:51

Studies in US have shown that abstinence only programmes are ineffective, that the young people have sex as early as other kids, but that they often don't use contraception.

I don't actually think that kids should be taught that sex is fine and good, as long as you use a condom. I don't think that they should be taught that sex is best when you love someone.

Telling hormonal kids to wait till they are 'in love' is a recipe for disaster.

Teach them that sex is great, when you are ready for it. If you are unsure, then wait till you are happy to go ahead.

amazingmumof6 Sat 08-Jun-13 21:48:30

fliss and suffolk great attitude. nice assumptions.

dare I state that I prefer to teach my children in a way I see fit and immediately there's this hostile attitude.

how very open-minded of you!

MmeLindor Sat 08-Jun-13 21:53:43

Amazing
It is kind of difficult to enter into a discussion with someone who won't explain why she feels so strongly about a topic, or give reasons for her statement.

Of course you can decide what your kids learn, but your kids are friends with our kids so their behaviour has an impact on our kids' lives.

Flisspaps Sat 08-Jun-13 21:54:56

But if you don't teach your children things that don't fit with your beliefs, then how can they make healthy, sensible, informed choices?

Not informing your children means my children are at risk. If they're all taught the same, without omission, without prejudice, without fear, then that should make them all safer.

OddSockMonster Sat 08-Jun-13 22:14:22

I think the bill amendment is a great idea - seeing as teens pay as much / sometimes more attention to what their peers say, peer pressure to reinforce good relationships would help turn things around, wouldn't it?

Also, I had very very little knowledge of DV till it landed on my doorstep - even an inkling would have helped me help others in bad situations.

notcitrus Sat 08-Jun-13 22:22:51

Amazingmum - do you home educate?
If not, I'm wondering what makes you presumably content with schools teaching national curriculum versions of history, the English language, biology, just to mention some subjects that include aspects where many parents have strong views, but relationships are different?

Possibly RE is the best comparison: schools teach that the Bible says XYZ, whereas Islam teaches XYZ, with parents left to ascribe values to the facts. PSHE could equally say 'the law says service providers must not discriminate on the basics of sex, race, sexuality', or statistics show most teens are lying when they say theyve had sex, whatever, and parents are still left to impart their own values.

Flisspaps Sat 08-Jun-13 22:23:45

Also Oddsock, it means that kids know what to look for FOR their friends - if 16yo Betty thinks that 16yoJane is experiencing violence in her relationship because she's been taught about it in class, and speaks out about it, because Jane is too scared to report it herself, surely that can only be a good thing?

It's not just about misguidedly 'protecting' your own kids. It's about equipping ALL of them with the tools to help themselves and each other. Not just teaching them what you know or agree with.

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