The number of sex offences in schools reported to police has almost trebled in four years, according to data obtained by the charity Plan International. Alleged perpetrators were most likely to be other pupils, and girls were the victims in two-thirds of all cases.
Plan International have called for compulsory lessons on healthy relationships to tackle aggressive sexual behaviour. The Department for Education has issued a response stating that it is “looking at all options to raise the quality of personal, social and health education (PSHE) teaching.”
Last month, the PSHE Association published figures showing the overwhelming majority of parents want preventative education focused on healthy relationships and consent to avoid getting to a position where the police are being called by schools with such regularity and children and young people are being drawn into the criminal justice system.
PSHE Association Chief Executive Joe Hayman said:
This is the latest in an ever-growing line of calls for education to help children and young people learn how to keep themselves and others safe. Over recent weeks, Police and Crime Commissioners, the Children's Commissioner, the NSPCC and Barnardo's, as well as politicians from across the political spectrum have called for education to play an enhanced role in response to abuse, exploitation and sexual harassment in schools. Evidence suggests that such education could help prevent abuse and stop young people being drawn into the criminal justice system. Polling shows that this kind of preventative education is hugely popular with parents.
We are heartened that in its response to today's story, the Department for Education is clear about the importance of education in keeping children safe and says that it is looking at "all options" to improve PSHE education.
We have waited too long for this change and millions children and young people have missed out as a result. We hope that Ministers will recognise the urgency of action on this crucial issue of child safety and listen to parents, pupils, parliamentarians and professionals and make PSHE education a statutory part of the curriculum at the earliest possible opportunity."