Hunter: Student experiences show need for proper RSE

education cara hunter RSE Gillen Review

SDLP East Derry MLA Cara Hunter has said a study showing nearly two-thirds of students in the North have had an unwanted sexual experience shows the need for proper relationship and sex education (RSE) in schools.

Ulster University and Queen’s University conducted a survey of over 1,000 students who detailed their experiences, ranging from unwanted sexual contact to rape.

Ms Hunter said the survey showed the scale of the problem and it should act as a wake-up call to the need to tackle the issue.

East Derry MLA Ms Hunter said:

“I understand that for many people this survey will make for very difficult reading, but this is the reality of what young people in our society – particularly women – are dealing with and I commend their bravery in speaking out. If you talk to any friendship group the majority of women will have had experiences similar to those detailed by the respondents to this survey and this issue has been swept under the carpet for too long.

“Unwanted sexual experiences happen across the North on a daily basis and many victims feel unable to come forward because they worry they won’t be believed or have zero faith that anything will be done about it, or they will be taken seriously. This is something we need to challenge at all levels, from our schools and universities to the police and justice system.

“We are over three years on from the findings of the Gillen Review and it’s frustrating that recommendations that would help us tackle the issues raised in this survey have still not been implemented. I have repeatedly raised the need for proper RSE in schools to give young people the tools they need to navigate issues like this and call out unwanted or unacceptable behaviour, but we have made little progress. The previous Secretary of State had indicated a desire to move on this issue, but that shouldn’t be necessary. We need to see Education Minister Michelle McIlveen step up and introduce compulsory RSE in schools so every young person is informed about consent and healthy relationships.”

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