Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird QC, has welcomed ‘long-overdue’ plans for sex education and relationships education (SRE) to be made compulsory in all schools.
Ms Baird has campaigned on the matter for years, along with many others, calling on the government to make age-appropriate SRE compulsory in order to help tackle child sexual exploitation (CSE) by educating young people on the illegality of abuse and instilling them with the confidence to report it.
Recently, the government commissioned the Women and Equalities Committee to conduct a review of Sexual Harassment & Sexual Violence in Schools and the guidance and statutory measures currently in place to tackle it. This review found that almost a third of girls aged 16-18 said that they had been groped at school. Three fifths of young women had experienced some form of sexual harassment. Following this, the committee called on the government to make SRE compulsory in schools
The Education Secretary has today announcement that the issue will now be a priority for the education department.
Ms Baird, who is also Chair of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, said: “For a long time I have said that SRE is vital for the safety and well-being of every child in the country. The government had been missing an obvious opportunity to protect children for a long time and I am delighted they have now rectified this”.
“The government now needs to ensure that sex education and relationships education are well implemented, everywhere, and cover the full spectrum of issues including consent, sexual health and the difference between acceptable and abusive behaviour.
“Unfortunately sexting and sexual bullying have been on the rise for some time now and we need clear messages for young people – what is acceptable and what is not. This is about helping them make informed choices and learning to respect themselves as well as others. Educating young people about these issues will no longer be left to chance but will become a firm part of the school curriculum”