Schoolchildren to be offered lessons on consent after murder of Sarah Everard

Schoolchildren will be offered lessons on consent following the murder of Sarah Everard at the hands of a police officer in March.

The campaign group Reclaim These Streets and social enterprise Shout Out UK have teamed up to develop the lessons as they say the “current provisions are not enough”.

The new lesson plans will cover a range of topics, including consent and its relationship to the law, myths relating to sexual harassments and assault and online harms.

It comes after more than 10,000 school pupils reported incidents of sexual violence and abuse to a website called “Everyone’s Invited”.

In a follow up in June, Ofsted revealed almost 90% of girls, and nearly 50% of boys, said being sent explicit pictures or videos was common.

Furthermore, 54% of pupils aged 16 and above said unwanted touching occurred frequently, with the figure dropping to 40% when 13 to 15-year-olds were asked.

The lessons provided by the Reclaim These Street and the Shout Out UK partnership will take place from September and will be broken up into three separate sessions.

The first will cover consent and its relationship to the law, as well as in relation to autonomy, rights, harm, morality, healthy relationships, statute and religion.

The second will explore myths relating to sexual harassment, assault and rape, the concept of “victim blaming” and understanding these terms in relation to gender.

And the final session will focus more on the online space: the legal and moral consequences for taking, sending and/or sharing sexual images and why this might occur, as well as revenge porn, data protection and privacy, and what online sexual harassment looks like.

Organisers say these lessons expand significantly on current consent education provisions.

Anna Birley, co-founder of Reclaim These Streets, said: “It isn’t OK that we grow up being told that it’s fine when a boy pulls our hair because it means he likes us.

“We have an opportunity to change that damaging narrative, and to engage boys and girls in a conversation about consent and respect, so that the next generation of men can champion women’s right to walk unmolested and unharassed (sic) in all public spaces.”

Ralitsa Raleva, a spokesperson for Shout Out UK, said: “I think it’s incredibly important to start young with conversations around consent and body autonomy.

“Even if this is just parents asking their child ‘can I give you a kiss? or can I give you a hug?

“We need to start normalising it when kids are already young, so that when they become grownups and adults, they know what to do.”

Caroline Nokes MP, chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, welcomed the move and said: “This new partnership is a step in the right direction, working with students and teachers to have meaningful conversations about consent, respect and gender.”

Ms Nokes also said it is important to have “more than one tool in the armoury”, the lessons shouldn’t just stop at school age, and said she would also welcome workshops on consent in the workplace.

She said it shouldn’t be about “how women behave,” adding that it is “crucially important that we empower women to have control over their own situations by encouraging men to make sure that they respect them”.

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