This weekend, newspapers were filled with headlines such as ‘Consent lessons will be given to children as young as four’. And it’s easy to see why this could make some parents worried. But you need not fear as PressMum explains what this really means and how this will be great both you and your kids.
At last the Governments draft update for sex and relationships education is to be announced. The guidance was last updated in 2000 and does not include advice on many of the digital aspects of relationships which are now relevant to children and young people.
Newspapers with an insight into what will be included are stating that consent will be taught to children aged four and that topics such as grooming and sexting will be covered.
But what does this really mean?
PressMum writer, Kerry Cabbin, explains:
‘As well as writing for PressMum, I am a sex and relationships educator, it’s a job I have been doing since 1998, (1993, if you include the volunteer work I did as a teen peer educator too) and it’s a role that I love and that I think I am pretty good at. I founded a company Tough Cookies Education Ltd in 2015 after working in local government for over 11 years in young people’s sexual health services and teaching sex ed in schools.
‘I now spend most of my time training teachers and designing lessons and resources for schools to use when they teach these topics.
‘I often work with schools to deliver aspects of the sex and relationships curriculum and so have experienced first-hand what schools deliver, or in most cases what they don’t deliver. Which is why this guidance from the Government is so important’.
Many schools are not currently teaching quality and effective sex and relationships education.
Schools worry about what to teach and so, far too often nothing is provided. Teachers worry about what parents will say and how they will react. The new guidance will help teachers know what they can and can’t teach for each age group and will give them the confidence to do so.
Good quality PSHE and SRE are proven to improve the health and well-being of children and young people.
92% of parents support the teaching of PSHE education in all schools. (YouGov survey)
85% of business leaders support teaching PSHE education in all schools. (YouGov survey)
9 in 10 pupils who are taught PSHE education believe that all pupils should receive these lessons. (TNS Global survey)
Sexual consent will not be taught to kids aged four.
In my 20-years’ experience, I have never yet been asked to teach sexual consent lessons to children aged four. In fact, lessons on the topic of consent only became popular in my work from 2015 and are usually provided to pupils in year 9 and above.
When delivering sex and relationship education lessons teachers ensure what they are talking about is age appropriate and many schools will provide children aged four with the basics, such as: naming the parts of the body including penis and vagina and the underwear rule.
The Underwear Rule is a resource for parents and schools which teaches small children about private body parts and helps them to stay safe. You can download information and learn more about using the resource with your children here.
In primary school much of the lessons your children will be taught will be about them knowing their human rights, learning that they are in charge of their bodies, developing the skills needed to be confident and assertive and to know how to respond if someone asks them to do something which they are uncomfortable with.
Lessons are not taught to focus on the sexual aspects of this but sometimes this subject may come up. Many times, children have raised a question or checked their understanding by reflecting on something they have heard in the news or on a soap they have watched with their family. I had so many questions about consent when grooming and CSE were covered in Coronation Street.
A great video to use which can help you to have these conversations with your children at home is Consent for kids.
For pre-teens. lessons will focus on things like peer pressure and will help prepare children for the wider world, equipping them with the skills they will need to navigate their way through adolescence, high school and all that comes with it.
I love this video from Amaze.org and use this on a regular basis with pupils.
Other resources you can use are available from ThinkUKnow an online website for parents, young people and schools which has resources to help keep children safe online.
Consent and tea
For older teens, consent will be taught more openly, young people will learn about the age of consent and the laws around sexting, they will also be taught what do to if someone requests an inappropriate image. And how to report any unwanted sexual behaviour. This tea video works well with older teens to help them understand how consent works.
Delivered alongside other lessons which prepare teens to talk openly and honestly about relationships and sex, it can help teens understand that actually ‘not everybody is doing it’ and that most teens do not send a sext.
The new guidance and the changes to make sex and relationships education compulsory is a positive step and could help safeguard many children and young people.
For more information contact www.toughcookiesed.co.uk