For Immediate Release
Only 27% of 16-34 year olds in NI found Relationships & Sexuality education they received to be helpful
New research by leading relationships support charity Relate NI ahead of RSE Day on June 30th, shows the inconsistency in the quality of Relationships & Sexuality Education that people in NI have experienced over the years.
Only 8% of 16-34 year olds surveyed said that the Relationships & Sexuality Education (RSE) they received at school was ‘very helpful’ to them in navigating and maintaining healthy relationships, with a further 19% saying what they received was ‘somewhat helpful.’
Meanwhile, 23% of 16-34 year olds surveyed said that their experience of RSE was ‘not very helpful’ to them while an additional 24% ‘did not find it helpful at all.’
A further 23% of 16-34 year olds surveyed do not remember receiving any Relationships & Sexuality Education at all while at school, while 3% preferred not to say.
Relationships & Sexuality Education (RSE) was introduced to the school curriculum in NI in the 2007/08 school year, however, the statutory curriculum is designed to give schools and teachers flexibility in what they choose to include, or leave out, which Relate NI claims is leading to inconsistency in the quality of education that young people are receiving.
Relate NI Development Manager, Kellie O’Dowd, said;
“High quality and evidence based RSE is about empowering children and young people to develop confidence and self-esteem by promoting healthy relationships and providing information on issues like puberty and consent. It is also about protecting children and young people by teaching them how to stay safe online; how to tackle inappropriate behaviour and to develop coping strategies. It also allows opportunities for young people to receive age appropriate information about sexual health. By teaching young people about consent for example, we can protect them from sexual abuse and exploitation.”
“However, the current situation provides a statutory framework for a postcode lottery of RSE for children and young people, with some having told us that for example same-sex relationships have not been featured in any meaningful way.”
A 2019 report from the Belfast Youth Forum, ‘Any Use?,’ highlighted that young people were more likely to learn about sex and relationships from their friends or peer groups (62%) or from social media (55%) than they were to learn about it through lessons at school. This can lead to a spread of misinformation among young people, which can result in unrealistic expectations, normalisation of abusive behaviour and increased anxieties around relationships and sexual health.
Over the past few years, various bodies have including CEDAW, Sir John Gillen and the Expert Panels on Gender Equality and Sexual Orientation, have highlighted the importance of high quality RSE as a compulsory element of the curriculum for all school children.
A NI Assembly debate last year on a Strategy to Prevent Violence against Women and Girls also resulted in cross party support for a motion calling on the NI Executive “…to introduce standardised, comprehensive relationships and sexuality education in our schools….” as part of any forthcoming Strategy.”
Kellie continued; “Relate NI are once again calling for the standardisation of the curriculum of Relationships & Sexuality Education across all schools, which is evidence-based, compulsory, age-appropriate, LGBTQ+ Inclusive & Sex Positive.”
“In the meantime, we are working with our partners in Nexus & The Rainbow Project, to provide RSE workshops for 15-16 year old’s in a community setting.”
For more information on Relate NI’s RSE service, visit https://www.relateni.org/relateni-services/relationships-sexuality-education/
This survey, commissioned by Relate NI, polled 1000 nationally representative general consumers in Northern Ireland between 22nd April – 29th April.
The 16-34 cohort was made up of 303 participants.
For more information, please contact:
Stevie Maginn – Relate NI Communications & Engagement Manager
07483 074693 / 028 9032 3454« I Just Want to be Happy Relationships on Screen Series 3 »
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