The Social Democrats today said the forthcoming review of the relationship and sexuality curriculum in schools must also lead to the introduction of support programmes for parents and guardians.

Welcoming the announcement that a review of the curriculum is to be carried out, the party’s political director Anne-Marie McNally said:

“Relationship and sexuality education in our schools is patchy at best and, at worst, disseminates misinformation. Children and young people are filling in the gaps by learning and talking about sex through social media channels and online, including porn sites which provide very distorted and inappropriate messages about relationships and sexuality.

“Long before issues were raised during the recent Belfast rape trial, it was very apparent that we are failing to promote a culture of sexual consent. We need to see holistic and positive sex education that helps young people to embrace a healthy and respectful sexuality. It’s vital that young people are fully aware of their right to consent to or decline a sexual encounter, and that they can recognise where consent is given and where it is not.”

Ms McNally added:

“The remit of this review should not end at the school gates – there is real scope for parallel programmes to provide support to parents or guardians. They provide crucial relationships and sexuality information to their children and teenagers but may not always feel adequately equipped or sufficiently confident.

“A schools programme should be developed by the Department of Education in consultation with the HSE, TUSLA and relevant bodies. This should follow best practice approaches and there should be adequate training for teachers or programme providers. Where training is delivered by external agencies, there should be regulation and oversight to ensure that the agreed programme is being delivered. It is also vital that all schools are obliged to deliver the programme as outlined, with no provision for opting out of particular elements.”

ENDS

3 April 2018

Notes to Editors:

The Social Democrats’ Sexual and Reproductive Health policy document is available here.