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Study finds current sex education provided in schools ‘inadequate’

By Megan Rose

A recent study conducted by the Terrence Higgins Trust has found that sex and relationships education (SRE) currently given in schools is ‘inadequate’ and sometimes non-existent.

The Shh…No Talking report was compiled from a study which asked over 900 young people between the ages of 16-24 what SRE they had received. They were also asked what they believed was wrong or missing from the sex and relationships advice they were given. Results showed that 99 per cent of participants believed that SRE should be made compulsory in all schools, and that only 2 per cent who had received SRE rated it as ‘excellent.’ One in seven respondents said they hadn’t received any SRE at school at all.

Participants named subjects such as LGBT relationships and consent, as being important to include in future SRE. Respondents said other overlooked areas included talking about sex and pleasure, HIV and gender. The majority of the SRE the respondents said they received was heavily biological and focused on heterosexual relationships.

Ian Green, the chief executive at the Terrence Higgins Trust, said that the call for SRE to be urgently updated must be observed by the government, otherwise children and young people ‘will turn to less reliable sources such as the internet or their peers as they navigate life outside the classroom.’ The last time that SRE was updated was 16 years ago – which Green said was ‘shocking.’

The way that technology and the internet has evolved in recent years is unprecedented, with young people being able to access information and communicate in a completely different way. The current SRE derives from a world before this technological revolution and is, Green said, ‘wholly unfit to prepare them for the realities of sex and relationships in 2016.’

Opening up a conversation about sex can be difficult to approach with a child, but is invaluable for them to recognise that what they may come across online isn’t reliable. Justin Hancock, author of Talking to Teens About Sex, explains how to broach talking about sex with your child on our site, Parent Info.

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