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Compulsory Sex and Relationship Education: A Step in the Right Direction

Last week the government announced that Sex and Relationship Education (SRE) will finally be made compulsory in all schools in England. So far, sex education has only been compulsory in council-run schools, but the Education Secretary Justine Greening has now announced that academies and free schools will be obligated to include SRE in their curriculum. Thanks to campaigns from various organisations such as the Everyday Sexism Project, children from the age of four will be taught about relationships and sex education will also be taught in secondary schools.

The announcement has provoked controversy with certain members of the public, with some parents considering sex education for their children in an academic environment to be inappropriate. Some parents would rather teach their children about sex and relationships themselves and parents will retain the right to withdraw their children from SRE lessons. However, if SRE becomes an integral part of young people’s curriculum, it ensures that every child is taught about healthy relationships and sex in an appropriate and common manner. This is an important step in guaranteeing that all young people do learn about SRE and are thus equipped with the right knowledge about what constitutes safe relationships.

(Photo Credit: www.mirror.co.uk

Sex education will continue to involve teaching young people about safe sex and contraception. 

Although the government is still to finalise the specific curriculum outline for SRE, the topics that will be covered will include the dangers of online pornography and sexting, as well as warning children about sexual harassment and how to recognise it. In primary schools the focus of SRE will be on creating healthy relationships and how to stay safe; sex education will remain in an age-appropriate secondary school level curriculum and include discussions about contraception and consent. Teaching SRE to children will allow them a better understanding of what is right and safe, and what is wrong and dangerous. Giving children access to these values at a young age will expectantly reduce sexism and magnify the importance of consensual sexual relationships, as well as reducing the likelihood of sexual harassment. Furthermore, equipping young people with the ability to recognise abusive behaviours will hopefully prevent individuals from remaining in abusive relationships and to also prevent abuse altogether. It will enhance the important fact that society should be teaching individuals not to abuse, rather than teaching individuals that they should not be abused.

SRE may not be fully introduced until 2019, but the confirmation of its introduction is an encouraging step towards teaching and raising awareness among children and teenagers as to what safe sex and relationships should involve, therefore ensuring that this understanding continues into adulthood and applies to their future relationships. 

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