PSHE Association welcomes report into harmful sexual behaviours amongst children

The PSHE Association has welcomed today’s report into harmful sexual behaviour amongst children. The report comes at the end of an inquiry chaired by Conservative MP Nusrat Ghani and supported by leading children’s charity Barnardo’s, and focuses on efforts to prevent children from being drawn into harmful sexual behaviours and the criminal justice system.

The report notes that improving PSHE education was a consistent theme throughout the inquiry and recommends that all children should have access to high quality, age-appropriate information and advice about healthy relationships, their rights and responsibilities and how to seek support if they need it. The report notes:

“Almost universally the experts giving evidence to this Inquiry felt that age appropriate advice and information to all pupils in all schools was crucial in preventing harmful sexual behaviour … Children need to know that practices such as sexting – even between teenagers in a consensual relationship – can amount to breaking the law… Education of this sort should help prepare children and young people for the sexualised content they are almost inevitably liable to come into contact with online, either directly or second-hand.”

Responding on behalf of the PSHE Association, Chief Executive Joe Hayman said:

“We welcome this inquiry and strongly endorse the report. We know that children and young people are being exposed to distressing material online and increasingly share such material as well as explicit images of themselves and others, often without understanding the social, emotional and legal consequences of doing so.

As the report puts it: “Children [are] being exposed to a vastly greater volume, and more disturbing degree, of sexualised content at far earlier ages than previous generations. It is increasingly important that they have access to information from responsible authorities. If it is not available they will seek information anyway, but are more likely to receive this from less reliable sources…”

In this context, it is vitally important that we ensure that every child learns how to keep themselves and others safe in a sometimes confusing world, and crucially that they understand what is legal and what is illegal.  We therefore once again call on government to make PSHE education a statutory subject.”

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