24 September 2015
Child sexual exploitation is a serious problem in towns and cities across the UK. Between August 2010 and October 2011 alone, around 2,400 young people fell victim to gangs and individuals that groomed and exploited young people. However with many cases going unreported, the true figure could well be much higher.
One of the best ways to prevent child sexual exploitation and stop predators from grooming young people, is to educate pupils in schools about the dangers of CSE. So is there enough education on CSE in schools in the UK and what else could the government be doing to help keep young people safe from CSE?
What education already exists?
Following the high profile cases of CSE in Rotherham and Oxford, the government realised that it needed to do more to tackle the issue and prevent young people from coming under the influence of predatory groups.
To do this, they brought in guidelines that would help schools to teach pupils about consent, letting them know that they were in charge of their own bodies and don’t have to do anything that they are not comfortable with.
These lessons are to begin at the age of 11, with more in-depth teaching coming in as young people get older. By starting consent lessons at such a young age, schools hope to inform and educate pupils before they come into contact with people who may want to groom them.
Does this go far enough?
Though any improvements to sex education will help to inform young people and go a little way towards giving them the tools they need to stay safe, many people believe that the current curriculum doesn’t go far enough.
Some people believe that lessons should begin even younger as some school pupils become sexually active before they are teenagers. Some experts also say that the current curriculum fails to address the specifics of modern life, with social networks, smartphones and tablet computers making it easier for young people to be contacted by groups and individuals that may want to groom them.
What more could be done?
With many gangs and individuals contacting young people via social media, and with sexting becoming an increasingly important issue, schools need to address a range of subjects around CSE, as well as consent.
Topics like healthy and unhealthy relationships, sexual health and online apps are all important parts of a modern sex education curriculum. The content of these classes will need to be continually updated as new issues arise.
The more that young people know and understand about CSE, the better prepared they will be for the modern world. What’s more, if young people are aware of CSE and its warning signs, they will be able to keep themselves and their friends safe and away from potentially dangerous situations.
If you’ve been affected by CSE and would like someone to talk, to call the Rose Project on 0808 800 1037 or use our live chat function and talk to one of our team, we’re here to help.