​Sexual consent & rape myths: Sex ed syllabus doesn’t go far enough, say critics

Reuters/Paul Faith
As the government announced it would implement a new program of sex education lessons in schools, the organization that produced them says they haven’t been applied to the necessary extent.

The lessons were designed by the Personal Social Health and Economic Education Association (PSHEA) for use in British schools. While the scheme was officially back by the government on Sunday, they stopped short of making it mandatory.

PSHEA says sex education should begin well before people become sexually active, while still stressing the legal age of consent should remain at 16.

Their program covers issues including the impact of alcohol on consent, child sexual exploitation and the debunking of myths about rape and sexual violence.

In a statement released on their website on Sunday, PSHEA said while they were happy their efforts had been highlighted, they were: “Deeply disappointed that the secretary of state did not use this opportunity to respond to the recent recommendation from the Education Select Committee that PSHE be made a statutory part of the curriculum.

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Without this change, topics like consent will continue to be squeezed from school timetables and taught by untrained teachers. Given that five recent child sexual exploitation inquiries have all highlighted the need for schools to teach pupils how to keep themselves and others safe, the inadequacy of government action on this area is surprising and deeply disappointing.”

They point to the wide support their call to make the scheme mandatory has received across government departments and NGOs, saying: “Statutory status for PSHE education is supported by over 100 leading organizations including six Royal Medical Colleges, the NSPCC and Barnardo’s, as well as the Children's Commissioner and almost 90 percent of teachers and parents.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights, the Home Affairs Committee, the Chair of the Health Committee and All Party Group chairs from across the political spectrum have all called for this change.

Current government policy is that sex and relationship education, or SRE, is compulsory from age 11.

The Department for Education (DfE) says: “It involves teaching children about reproduction, sexuality and sexual health. It doesn’t promote early sexual activity or any particular sexual orientation.

READ MORE: UK teens turning to porn for sex education – study

In January, it was reported teens are increasingly turning to online porn rather than their sex education teachers to learn about the birds and the bees.

According to the study, commissioned by the National Union of Students (NUS), around two-thirds of young people in Britain have admitted using porn as a way of understanding sex.

The survey questioned more than 2,500 young people, asking them to rate the quality of sex education in their schools and colleges. The majority said the lessons did not provide them with the answers they were seeking.