19 March 2015
If you’re at school now or have graduated in the last few years, you’ll already know that everyone aged 11 and over will have lessons on sex education.
Though most school pupils won’t be sexually active at 11, schools start sex education lessons early to try and make sure that young people are well informed and know how to keep themselves safe when they do start having sex.
This week the government announced that, as well as learning about sexually transmitted diseases, contraception and safe sex, 11 year olds in England will now be taught about consent too. Designed to give young people the tools they need to make informed choices, these lessons should help protect school pupils from sexual exploitation and help them to understand that they can say no.
Why is it important to learn about consent?
These days, a lot of young people feel under pressure to become sexually active. Social media, the internet and television programs are full of sex, making it almost inevitable that young people will come across adult content at some point before they turn 16.
Seeing this content and hearing friends and older people talk about sex can make young people feel like they should be doing it too. Some older people take advantage of this and try to pressure young people into doing things they are not comfortable with.
The consent lessons that the government are planning to introduce will help pupils to understand that they can say no to things they are not comfortable with and teach them how to make informed choices.
The idea is that teaching young people about consent early on will give them the confidence and the tools they need to keep themselves safe in the future.
How can lessons on consent protect young people from exploitation?
The recent cases of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham and Oxford made the government, teachers and parents realise that they need to do more to keep vulnerable young people safe.
Both cases showed just how easily young people can be exploited when they are not taught how to say no and to understand that saying no is an option.
The teachers taking these lessons will be specially trained and will have access to wide range of resources. This should help them to help young people to deal with the challenges they face in the modern world.
By making lessons on consent a compulsory part of sex education, schools can teach young people that they have a choice when it comes to sex. This should help to prevent exploitation and give young people the self-respect they need to keep themselves safe.
If you’d like to find out more about consent or about the support that’s available to victims of sexual exploitation, visit our website or if if you would like to talk to us about any concerns you may have as a young person, call our freephone helpline on 0808 800 1037.