Sex and Relationships Education for the smartphone generation
A report published by the Terrence Higgins Trust, a HIV and sexual health charity, has found that sex and relationships education (SRE) is inadequate or absent in many schools.
The report ‘SRE: Shh… No Talking’ was published following a survey of more than 900 young people aged 16–24. Key findings from the report include:
- 99 per cent of young people surveyed thought SRE should be mandatory in all schools
- 97 per cent thought it should be LGBT inclusive
- one in seven respondents had not received any SRE at all
- half of young people rated the SRE they received in school as either ‘poor’ or ‘terrible’
- just 2 per cent rated it as ‘excellent’ and only 10 per cent rated it as ‘good’
The report also examines some of the topics missing from SRE in schools, such as discussions around consent, LGBT relationships and gender identity.
Ian Green, chief executive of the Terrence Higgins Trust, said: "Without trusted information from schools on anything other than the biological basics of heterosexual sex, young people will turn to less reliable sources such as the internet or their peers as they navigate life outside the classroom. We must end this silence and make SRE mandatory in all schools if we are to tackle this safeguarding crisis."
Reflecting on the 16-year-old guidance currently provided by the government, he added:
"It is shocking that government guidance offered to schools on SRE is older than nearly all of the students themselves. Young people are getting information about sex and relationships in a world before social media existed, before smartphones, before equal marriage or Civil Partnerships. It is wholly unfit to prepare them for the realities of sex and relationships in 2016."
The charity is campaigning, alongside other organisations such as Brook, for SRE to have the same compulsory status as Religious Education.
ASDAN supports the call for statutory and high-quality SRE and PSHE provision. We recognise the importance of these subjects in preparing young people for adult life and giving them the confidence and skills to lead healthy and fulfilling lives.
The ASDAN Sex and Relationships Short Course covers all aspects of SRE, from body knowledge and contraception to relationships and messages in the media. The Short Course also contains challenges specifically linked to the impact of digital technology, including the impact of social media, the availability of pornography, online grooming and cyber-bullying. These challenges are available to download as part of a supplement titled Sex and Relationships Education in a digital world.