11th September, 2017

For sexual health charity FPA’s national Sexual Health Week (11-17 September), parents are calling on schools to teach the subjects that their children need to know in order to develop healthy relationships and stay safe online.

In a survey carried out by FPA:

  • Around four out of five parents (78%) said that schools should be talking to young people about subjects related to pornography, such as body image, self-esteem, consent and communication.
  • More than four in five parents (81%) said it's a good idea to start talking to young people about subjects related to pornography – in a way that's suitable for their age – before they're 16 years old.
  • Over half (54%) of parents said it's a good idea to start talking about these subjects when young people are 13 years old or younger.

In response to the findings, FPA are helping parents write to their children’s schools to confirm that topics such as consent, communication, body image and self-esteem are covered in relationships and sex education lessons.

With relationships and sex education (RSE) set to become statutory in England from 2019, and a government consultation on what the curriculum should include due this autumn, schools need to ensure they are delivering a modern RSE programme that covers topics that are relevant to young people’s lives.

Knowing they have the support of parents in teaching about these topics can help teachers feel confident developing and delivering lessons that both empower and inform young people, so that they can be in control of their own sexual health and wellbeing, and ultimately have happy and fulfilling sexual lives and relationships.

Parent of three, Samantha Evans, said:

“As a parent of three teenagers I personally feel it’s my responsibility to make sure our children have the information they need to form healthy relationships and make informed decisions. It’s for that reason that I’ve written to my children’s schools, asking them to make sure they’re covering important subjects like consent and communication in relationships and sex education.

“We also make sure to talk about these subjects at home, and because of this our children know they can come to us to discuss any concerns, and that we will listen fully before rushing in with our input.”

Teacher Alice Hoyle said:

“As a teacher, I know how important these subjects are, and the difference covering them can make to my students. Making sure that young people get the relationships and sex education that they need will always be a partnership between parents and schools. It’s for this reason that it’s great for schools to know they have the support of parents, which is why it’s vital for parents who care strongly about this issue to make their voices heard.”

Natika Halil, Chief Executive of the sexual health charity FPA, said:

“In the year that relationships and sex education has finally been made statutory in England, we’ve focused Sexual Health Week on a topic that underpins all sexual health and wellbeing – education.

“Parents, teachers, and the government have all told us that schools need to be teaching subjects related to porn, such as body image, self-esteem, consent and communication. This of course needs to be age-appropriate, and should never involve showing porn in schools. It’s about ensuring that young people’s education provides an opportunity to frankly discuss a range of issues, so that they have the skills they need to contextualise pornography as a fantasy and to challenge some of the stereotypes it may contain.

“So, we’re helping parents to contact their children’s schools to confirm the school is teaching the subjects that their children need to know in order to develop healthy relationships and stay safe online. We’ll also be sharing tips for parents and teachers to help them feel confident in having the conversations they need to support their children and students.”

NOTES

For Sexual Health Week this year, we're talking about porn. We carried out a survey of 2,004 parents to find out how they feel about discussing subjects related to porn with their children.

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from Atomik Research. Fieldwork was undertaken between 11 August and 14 August 2017. The survey was carried out online. The survey was representative of all UK parents of children aged between 4 and 18. Read the full results here (PDF).

We’ve produced tips to help teachers (PDF) and parents (PDF) feel confident discussing subjects related to porn.

Parent of three Samantha Evans, teacher Alice Hoyle, and FPA’s Chief Executive are all available for interview.

For media enquiries please contact the Press Office on 020 7608 5265 or email [email protected]. Mobile 07958 921 060.

The sexual health charity FPA gives straightforward information and support on sexual health, sex and relationships to everyone in the UK. FPA educates, informs and supports people through our specialist sexual health programmes and counselling service, our websites and publications, our training for professionals and our public awareness campaigns.

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