New Curriculum Vital to Keep Children Safe

6 March 2019

Catherine Arkley is chair of the local charity Safe and Sound.

From our experience of supporting children and young people across Derbyshire who have experienced or are at risk of child sexual exploitation, we know that young people’s awareness and understanding of sex and healthy relationships can vary quite drastically.

This is possibly due to inconsistencies in what is taught and discussed in schools and it is therefore good news that compulsory health education will be rolled out in all primary and secondary schools next year.

From 2020, this part of the curriculum will focus on physical and mental health, wellbeing, safeguarding and healthy relationships.

Lessons will furthermore include relationships education in primary schools and then relationships and sex education (RSE) for secondary school pupils – including awareness of consent, grooming, sexuality, online safety and sexting.

This expanded curriculum is vitally important as all of these issues are contributory factors in child sexual exploitation which is our charity’s specialist focus.

Child Sexual Exploitation (commonly referred to as CSE) is a form of child sexual abuse and takes many different forms from rape and sexual assault to online grooming and encouraging children to share inappropriate images of themselves.

The key factor is that perpetrators – operating as individuals or in groups – take advantage of young people by manipulating or deceiving them into sexual activity in exchange for something the victim needs or wants.

This could range from money and alcohol to less tangible things such as the attention that they crave at a vulnerable time in their lives.

Whilst education does not prevent child sexual exploitation it itself, raising awareness can increase young people’s confidence in talking about traditionally uncomfortable or taboo subjects. It also signposts young people to where they can find support.

Our hope is that these long overdue changes to the school curriculum will help play a vital role in raising children’s awareness of the potential dangers that they face and increase their self confidence and esteem to be more resilient as they become young adults.

Notes to the editor:

For more information please contact Sarah Jenkin-Jones, JJPR, Tel: 01332 515102/07951 945665; [email protected]