A coalition of women’s groups has attacked Michael Gove for doing too little to protect girls and young women from serious sexual assault. This is from the Guardian…
They say that despite clear evidence of a problem, the Department for Education is refusing to make teaching of sex and relationships education compulsory for all schools, a move that experts claim is key to helping young people grasp fundamental issues of consent and respect.
Charities also argue that teachers receive too little training on how to spot and deal with abuse of girls as well as pointing out that many schools have no policy on how to prevent the problem.
The coalition, which includes charities Rape Crisis and End Violence Against Women, which incorporates 60 groups, asks why schools are not running the highly regarded Home Office campaign This Is Abuse which is aimed at young people and outlines what constitutes rape while also explaining that in nine out of 10 cases the victim knows the perpetrator.
Holly Distin, director of End Violence Against Women, said: “A critical opportunity is being missed by not making sex and relationships education compulsory for all schools so that young people are taught about sexual consent and respectful relationships. We are in a critical moment for turning this around but we need political leadership on it.
“We are worried that our government is missing a key opportunity to tackle this issue, challenging harmful attitudes and behaviours by young men before they set in.”
On Thursday a parliamentary debate will discuss the merits of making sex and relationships education compulsory, arguing that the Jimmy Savile and Rochdale child sexual exploitation scandals underline the need to tackle the underlying attitudes that allow such abuse to prevail.
The allegation that schools are not being encouraged to identify victims of abuse early enough or tackle potential perpetrators was highlighted by recent findings showing that teachers are failing to intervene and prevent entrenched patterns of sexual offending developing among boys and young men.
The wider scale of the problem was laid bare last month with campaigners saying that the government’s official statistics confirmed that rapists attack with “near impunity.”
The figures revealed that one in five of all women in England and Wales report that they have been the victim of a sexual offence since the age of 16. Statisticians are crunching the data to ascertain if there has been an increase in the widely quoted estimate that only 6% of rape allegations received by police lead to a conviction.
“A tiny number of women report assaults, and a tinier number make it through the criminal justice system to a conviction,” added Distin.