Youth Commission give young people a national voice on Relationships and Sex Education

19 March 2018

The Police and Crime Commissioner’s Youth Commission has submitted findings of its consultation with over 3,300 young people across Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Southampton to Government in a bid to ensure pupils are getting the information they need to thrive in the increasingly complex and digital world.

The submission is in response to a call by Government for the views of parents, education professionals, and young people on how to improve Relationships and Sex Education and Personal Social, Health and Economic (PHSE) education.

A recent YouGov poll showed that 91% of parents surveyed believed all pupils should receive PHSE lessons to teach them about the risks of sexting, as well as other issues such as contact from strangers online. A Barnardo’s poll of 11-15 year olds also showed that 74% believed that children would be safer if they had age appropriate classes on sex and relationships.

In their response the Youth Commission highlighted the ideas young people have shared with them on improving education across four areas – unhealthy relationships, hate crime, mental health and cyber safety.

This included:

  • Sex education lessons need to cover the physical, personal and emotional all together, not separate them.
  • Gender equality when learning about sexual relationships is important, especially around issues such as abuse, consent and rape.
  • Materials and examples currently being used are dated and not very relatable, especially when it comes to social media.
  • When discussing unhealthy relationships young people want to hear from other young people, to bring the advice and support they are being told to life.
  • Young people should be taught up to date tech information regarding apps and social media platforms used by young people today, and also social and emotional strategies to keep safe and healthy with technology.
  • Young people want people to talk to online and via text/messaging apps as well as face to face and on the phone, and for information on support options to be clear
  • There should be access to anonymous reporting – for example for hate crime.

Youth Commission member, Amy Hemming, 19 from Andover said: “Over the last year we been asking young people what issues are most important to them, their thoughts and experiences and their top idea to help. Some of the issues raised through this consultation are already being tackled locally – for example through our Cyber Ambassadors in schools or the Commissioner’s funding for Hate Crime reporting centres. We now want our voices, and the voices of the young people we have spoken to, to be heard at a national level.

“How can we be taught to keep safe, have better physical, emotional and mental health if the adults around us do not fully understand the world we are growing up in and understand what we feel is important.”

The full response by the Youth Commission is available at https://www.hampshire-pcc.gov.uk/youth-commission/having-our-say