Hannah Tasker looks at the multitude of problems in our current sex education curriculum and thinks it continuously fails our younger generations.

The statistics of rape and sexual assault numbers in the UK are, as we all know, alarmingly high and it was only last week that figures were published regarding what the UK public think is or isn’t rape.

We need to start from the root. Our education system is massively failing us in its limited teaching of consent in sexual education and it’s about time we look at how this is happening and, more importantly, how to fix it.

‘Just say no’; the advice that does not quite cut it to say the least. Do you remember what you were taught about sexual relationships at school? Was it mainly ‘this is how to make a baby’, ‘this is how to put on a condom’ and, ‘this is the end result’ watching a woman giving birth in rather too much detail for a 9am year 7 class who have just had breakfast — it’s enough to put anyone off right? Wrong. The fundamental part of this problem in our society and schools today is leaving children with little to no knowledge on consent, the difficulties of it, or the realities.

I was not at all shocked to read online that the current education curriculum does not include consent.

But is this not part of the problem? I should have been shocked.

This fact is beyond ridiculous. If all we are teaching children is ‘just say no’ how can we expect to make much progress in reducing numbers of sexual assault and rape? Let’s be brutally honest here, ‘no’ doesn’t always work.

Without girls and boys understanding how sexual relationships work and what each may expect from sexual experiences, we are going to struggle to solve this failing. I learnt about sexual experiences through them happening; without prior knowledge. I thought that things boys wanted to do, meant I should really do them, that this was just part of growing up and being in relationships. I did things that, in hindsight, I did not want to. And I know this is not an uncommon story.

This is not to say that pressure from your partner can play a role in doing things you may not want to, but, if we do not even know the balance and very nature of a good and healthy relationship — if we do not even think that saying ‘no’ is really an option — then surely this should be tackled in school. By educating children on the realities of relationships, the balance in them and the safety and comfortability you should feel in them, then we would be making a much needed start in changing behaviours and attitudes.

Need some advice or someone to talk to confidentially? visit https://rapecrisis.org.uk for help.

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