Barnardo's: Make sex and relationship lessons compulsory

A man holding a condom behind his back Image copyright Thinkstock

Compulsory sex and relationship lessons for all school children should be introduced by the Welsh Government, Barnardo's Cymru has said.

The children's charity said a survey of 11 to 15-year-olds in the UK showed three quarters (74%) questioned believed they would be safer with age-appropriate lessons.

More protection is needed for online grooming and exploitation, it said.

The Welsh Government said sex education was already part of the curriculum.

Barnardo's Cymru said the Welsh Government stopped short of making sex and relationship education compulsory after similar calls by charities during the progress of the Second Violence and Domestic Abuse (Wales) Act.

It urged AMs to include it in the updated curriculum currently in the works.

Sarah Crawley, director of Barnardo's Cymru, said: "We are urging the Welsh Government to introduce compulsory, age-appropriate sex and relationship education in schools, including safe use of digital media.

"It's time to listen to children themselves who are telling us they lack confidence in staying safe online and are saying they need help in understanding the risks and avoiding danger."

In the poll, carried out among 1,200 children and teenagers across the UK, 96% said it was important to understand the dangers of being online.

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption More than 90% of 1,200 UK school children surveyed by Barnardo's said they wanted to know the risks of sharing images of themselves with a stranger online

The Welsh Government said it recognised the "critical importance" of safeguarding children and young people online.

"[We] have an extensive online education and awareness programme across Wales," a spokesman added .

"This allows schools to access online resources and classroom materials to support learners to think critically, behave safely, and participate responsibly online.

"Sex and relationship education is a part of the curriculum in Wales. We expect young people in Wales to receive age-appropriate sex and relationships education and our 'Sex and relationships education in schools guidance' provides advice about the teaching of all aspects of relationships, sexual health and wellbeing issues."

Ensuring children and young people were healthy and confident would be "at the heart" of the new curriculum", the spokesman added.

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