Barnardo’s is calling on the new UK government to commit to ensuring that all children in England receive age-appropriate sex and healthy relationship education in order to help tackle child sexual exploitation.
More must be done to prevent children from being exploited and we want the new administration to make the commitment so that children will get the guidance they need to form healthy relationships.
It is important for young people to understand that anyone is vulnerable to this crime, regardless of their background.
We also want teachers to receive specialist training on the nature of child sexual exploitation and abuse.
Parents also have a hugely important role to play and schools should involve them in the planning and process from the beginning, including taking into account their wishes on whether boys and girls should get sex and relationship education together.
Our specialist services are seeing more and more children who are identified as needing our help.
Recent high-profile sex abuse scandals pushed the issue to the forefront of the public consciousness but we must ensure that this doesn’t get lost post-election. We must maintain the political momentum on this threat to children. It must not be allowed to drop off the agenda. The new government must work with local authorities, police, schools and parents across England to keep young people safe.
Steve Oversby, North East regional director, Barnardo’s
Tanners Lane, Barkingside, Ilford, Essex