RCNI urges government to make Sexual Consent Education a priority within our Secondary Schools

Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) Press Release 10th March 2015

RCNI urges government to make Sexual Consent Education a priority within our Secondary Schools

RCNI today, following announcements in the UK, urge Minister for Education, and Skills, Jan O’Sullivan to act now to ensure our children are protected from sexual violence through teaching the knowledge, skills and abilities to understand sexual consent and negotiate their potential relationships safely.

Cliona Saidlear, RCNI Director said, ‘this time last year RCNI revealed new research findings in Young people, Alcohol and Sex: What’s Consent got to do with it?, in which our brightest young people, our college students, said they lacked preparedness to negotiate consent safely leaving them vulnerable to sexual violence.  They cited having had no exposure to consent education in their school experience.

‘Our school curriculum and national policy within the education system has as yet not responded to that evidence of failure to prevent sexual violence and protect children. In addition we continue to await the National Sexual Health Strategy. Today the UK government took the initiative and announced plans to teach children from the age of 11 about sexual consent. This approach to sexual violence prevention would advance us towards the WHO  Standards for Sexuality Education in Europe (2010) which outlines the various levels of sexuality education recommended from 0-4, 6-9, 9-12, 12-15 and 15 plus.

‘Our young people need government to act to prevent sexual violence. In RCNI’s report in 2013 on Hearing Child Survivors of Sexual Violence it was revealed that 37% of the perpetrators of sexual violence against children were themselves children. This figure could be reduced if greater emphasis was placed on prevention through sexual consent training.

‘We cannot continue to be outraged at the level of incidence of sexual violence and particularly alcohol implicated sexual violence amongst young people, when opportunities for preventing sexual violence are not prioritised.

RCNI call on the Minister to look to the WHO evidence and our neighbour’s example and make sexual consent education a priority.