Rape Crisis Network Ireland welcomes the publication of the draft specifications on SPHE/RSE curriculum for Junior cycle children and the opening of a 12- week consultation on the new Junior Cycle Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) curriculum. The document we are asked to consider is the endpoint of extensive consultation that began in 2018. This updated curriculum is essential in a rapidly changing social, cultural and sexual landscape where sexual violence remains a persistent and widespread threat to young people.
RCNI has long been calling for the Department of Education and Skills to put in place a national policy on sexual harassment for second-level schools and reform of the RSE curriculum is central to this objective. When discussing education and awareness on relationship and sexual education it is important to bear in mind that our society already provides comprehensive training in sexism and gender inequality. This training starts as soon as socialisation begins in early childhood and is well developed by the time children reach second level school. RCNI is encouraged to note that the new curriculum will address the increasingly concerning impact of gender inequality, sexism and pornography in addition to education around consent and healthy relationships.
Said Cliona Saidlear, executive director of RCNI
‘RCNI research has shown that Irish adolescents are experiencing high levels of sexual harassment and that for girls in particular sexual harassment and violence is normalised, denied and minimised. The children who will benefit from this comprehensive new curriculum must be given the tools to address their own and others’ desires and demands appropriately against our misogynistic cultural backdrop. We are all stakeholders in this process and it is of vital importance to all of us that, as they prepare to enter their adolescence and adulthood, our children are equipped with accurate information on sex and biology, empowered by robust guidance on healthy versus abusive relationships and protected from damaging social and cultural norms around gender and sexuality.’
The consultation is open to all for 12 weeks. More information here.