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MPs Call For Compulsory Sex And Relationships Education To Stop 'Endemic' School Sexual Harassment

'Nude images are traded like football stickers in schools.'

14/02/2017 10:46

A group of leading MPs, charities and women’s groups have written an open letter to Justine Greening demanding compulsory sex and relationships education (SRE) to tackle “endemic levels of sexual harassment” in schools. 

Maria Miller, Sarah Champion and Caroline Lucas are among those calling on the Education Secretary to bring forward legislation to give young people the knowledge to have “respectful, healthy loving relationships”.  

Statistics show that one in five girls have been sent unwanted pornographic videos or photos, while 29% of 16-18 year old girls have experienced unwanted touching at school. 

Joe Giddens/PA Wire
A cross-party group of MPs has sent Justine Greening an open letter demanding compulsory sex and relationships education for all teens 

Policy-makers must “wake up to the reality of a school environment where nude images are traded like football stickers”, co-director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition Sarah Green said. 

“All children in all schools should be provided with SRE to give them the chance to talk about what respect, equality and consent really mean, and to challenge views that condone or minimize abuse,” she added. 

Under current government guidelines, which were last updated 17 years ago, it is only compulsory for state schools to teach students about the biology of sex - not academies and free or independent schools.  

No schools are obliged to teach pupils about the social and emotional aspects of relationships such as consent.  

SREnow
The group has released a short film asking why SRE is not treated like other school subjects 

The letter, which calls for “age appropriate” and “evidence-based” education, has also been signed by Mumsnet, Girlguiding UK and the Everyday Sexism Project. 

It is accompanied by an online petition which has already been signed more than 45,000 times. It has gained support from Emma Watson, actor Hugh Quarshie and Cindy Gallop, the founder of the MakeLoveNotPorn project.

One of the signatories, Sarah Briggs, commented: “In the world of the internet and social media, we’re doing our kids a disservice if we don’t teach them what’s normal and ok.

“I have two daughters and I want them to be confident and safe.”  

The group have also released a short film showing how difficult young people’s lives would be if core subjects such as maths and English were treated the same way as sex and relationships education. 

The campaign comes in the same month Parliament is expected to vote on an amendment to the Children and Social Work bill that could see all teens given age-appropriate, religiously diverse and LGBT-inclusive SRE. 

Under the changes, all school pupils would receive lessons on sexual consent, sexual violence and domestic violence. 

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