I still remember waiting in anticipation for my first mobile phone. I was in the first year of university and I couldn’t stop sending text messages on it, in spite of it being large, unwieldy and pretty useless (compared to what phones can do today).
When I was growing up, school children owning mobile phones was almost unheard of. Today, the generation of children using them as part of their everyday is getting younger.
My 2-year-old niece can’t communicate much beyond baby-babble, but she sure can find her way to her favourite game on her mother’s iPad.
Predictably, this has led to all kinds of new issues for young people. The rise of mobile phones and tablets among them has given them unlimited access to social media, online chat rooms and pornography.
Over recent months, there have been several reports of incidents involving sexting, cyber bullying and online abuse, where young people face pressure to behave a certain way because of peer pressure and / or a lack of awareness about how to deal with issues.
Parents, teachers and sexual health experts have recently raised concerns that the current sex and relationship policy was not addressing the problems faced by the current generation of school goers.
They believed that the current guidance, issued in 2000 and which is still being used by schools, is outdated as it does not include teaching of the ‘modern’ issues which plague teenagers in their online and offline relationships .
The Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) Hub for the South West has been founded by a group of statutory and non-statutory sector specialists who want to improve the quality of RSE in schools.
They facilitate the delivery of RSE in schools and educational establishments by providing reliable support and advice to educators in order to ensure an evidence-based approach to delivering RSE to young people.
The Sex Education Forum, which represents a group of individuals and organisations interested in improving sex and relationships education for young people, has developed the following checklist for primary and secondary schools outlining key principles and values for delivering high quality RSE for your school.
Quality RSE should:
- Cover an in-depth range of information about sex, relationships, the law and sexual health, in an accurate and factual manner. It should be part of compulsory curriculum provision in schools and help pupils make informed choices.
- Be positively inclusive in terms of gender, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity, culture, age, religion or belief or other experience particularly HIV status and pregnancy;
- Ensure the development of skills to support healthy and safe relationships and ensure good communication about these issues;
- Promote a critical awareness of the different attitudes and views on sex and relationships within society such as peer norms and those portrayed in the media;
- Provide opportunities for reflection in order to nurture personal values based on mutual respect and care;
- Be part of lifelong learning, starting early in childhood and continuing throughout life. It should reflect the age and level of the learner;
- Ensure children and young people are clearly informed of their rights such as how they can access confidential advice and health services within the boundaries of safeguarding;
- Be relevant and meet the needs of children and young people, and actively involve them as participants, advocates and evaluators in developing good quality provision;
- Be delivered by competent and confident educators;
- Be provided within a learning environment which is safe for the children, young people and adults involved and based on the principle that prejudice, discrimination and bullying are harmful and unacceptable.
Need further guidance on how to create a RSE policy for your school? View our topic ‘Sexual Health and Relationships’ for helpful resources and a 3-Minute Read on the current sex and relationship guidance for schools.
- The letter in full: ‘David Cameron must update sex and relationships guidance’ (telegraph.co.uk)
- Warwickshire school pupils create relationship guidance for website (coventrytelegraph.net)
- Comment: Porn or better sex education? (pinknews.co.uk)