We all want children to grow up healthy, happy, safe and able to manage the challenges and opportunities of modern Britain.
From September 2020 all primary age children will be taught Relationships and Health Education in school. Your child’s school will have flexibility to deliver the content in a way that is age and developmentally appropriate and sensitive to the needs and religious backgrounds of its pupils. Relationships education will put in place the building blocks needed for positive and safe relationships, including with family, friends and online.
Children will be taught what a relationship is, what friendship is, what family means and who can support them. In an age appropriate way your child’s school will cover how to treat each other with kindness, consideration and respect.
Relationships and Sex Education builds on the teaching at primary level and develops the curriculum for secondary pupils. It aims to give young people the information they need to help them develop healthy, nurturing relationships of all kinds. Your child’s school will cover content on what healthy and unhealthy relationships look like and what makes a good friend, colleague and successful marriage or committed relationship. At the appropriate time the focus will move to developing intimate relationships to equip your child to make safe, informed and healthy choices as they progress through adult life.
Characteristics of Healthy Relationships
A healthy relationship is one where a young person is respected and feels valued for who they are. It’s where they can openly share their thoughts and feelings and feel supported and encouraged.
Healthy relationships include:
- Good communication – a person listens to you and values your opinion
- Mutual respect- a person would never physically hurt you or call you names or threaten you
- Trust - a person is happy for you to spend time with your other friends and family
- Equality – a person accepts when you say no to things you don’t want to do
- Being yourself- a person makes you feel comfortable and safe
In a healthy relationship a person is free to make choices about their own behaviour and is not controlled or coerced into doing anything.
Signs of an unhealthy relationship
Parents, carers and friends may sometimes have concerns that a child or young person is becoming involved in an unhealthy relationship. There are some signs to look out for, for example a young person may :
- Lack close relationships other than with one particular person
- Be isolated from friends and family
- Be prevented from working or going to school/college/university
- Have their money taken away or controlled
- Have access to food, drinks and day to day items restricted
- Have their time controlled or heavily monitored
- Have their social media accounts controlled or heavily monitored
- Be told what to wear
- Feel pressured to do things they are not comfortable with
- Be put00 down or criticised
- Experience threats of violence if they don’t behave a certain way
- Experience threats to their loved ones or pets
- Be threatened with damage to their personal property.
Child Sexual Exploitation
As a parent or carer it is important to discuss with children the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships to help highlight potential risks to them.
There are also a number of practical steps you can take to protect children such as:
- Staying alert to changes in behaviour or any physical signs of abuse
- Being aware of new, unexplained gifts or possessions
- Monitor any episodes of staying out late or not returning home
- Making sure you understand the risks of online grooming and make sure your child knows how to stay safe online
- Be aware of who your child is friends with and any relationships they may have where there appears to be an imbalance in power