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#14 Does RSE damage children?

No, the reverse is true:

- A large study in United States found young people who had received RSE were less likely to describe first sex as unwanted, and female respondents who had received RSE were less likely to have a partner with a big age difference (Lindberg, 2012).

- Young people citing school as their main source of information about sex are less likely to contract an STI or (for young women) to be pregnant by 18 or experience an unplanned pregnancy in later life (Tanton 2015)

- Young people who have had high quality RSE are more likely to start having sex at an older age and more likely to use condoms and contraception if they do have sex (Kirby 2007 and UNESCO 2018)

Every child needs RSE. One reason is that sexual abuse can happen to any child. Statistics show that abusers are usually known to a child and often within their family. This is one reason why it’s of fundamental importance that every child receives relationships education. If we fail to teach children RSE they are left vulnerable. 

“I was sexually abused and no one told me what was done to me was wrong. We got stranger danger and how to cross the road and that was it. He was my granddad. I didn’t like it but didn’t know it was wrong but thought I should be embarrassed as I thought it was my fault. If I had known it was wrong and that I could say something and someone had listened, it might have stopped earlier than it did if I had known more or I might have told before I did.”

Female, 16 years old, respondent to Sex Education Forum ‘Heads or Tails’ survey, 2016

“We weren't taught about what sex is so how would we know if we were assaulted or raped”

Young person aged 16 or 17, respondent to Independent poll, 2018, Sex Education Forum 

For more information about the evidence and RSE please take a look at our evidence briefings.