The Everyday Sexism Project and the End Violence Against Women Coalition have launched a campaign calling all party leaders to commit to making Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) compulsory in schools.
Here's six reasons why they are making that call:
1. A 2010 YouGov survey for the End Violence Against Women Coalition revealed that almost one in three 16 to 18-year-old girls have experienced unwanted sexual touching at school, while sexual name calling such as “slut” or “slag” is routine.
2. A recent Freedom of Information request made by The Independent revealed that more than 1,000 alleged sexual offences in schools, including 134 rapes, were recorded by police in 2013. Over half were committed by other children.
3. Ongoing scandals like the recent revelations in Rotherham reveal a desperate need to address attitudes towards women and girls, and the normalisation of abuse.
4. Meanwhile, from Robin Thicke’s chart-topper “Blurred Lines” to online pornography to Page 3, young people are bombarded with negative and confusing messages about sex and relationships.
5. Some schools do tackle these issues, but provision is patchy. A 2011 study by sexual health charity Brook found that 22 per cent of 14 to 18-year-olds rated their SRE as “poor or very poor” and over a quarter said they didn’t get any SRE in school at all. And a Mumsnet survey found that 92 per cent of members think SRE should be a compulsory subject in secondary schools.