November 2014 - On relationship education for adults, young people and children 

A meeting of the APPG on the subject of relationship education for adults, young people and children took place on 4th November 2014.

Presentations were given on the subject of relationship education for adults by:  

Presentations on the subject of sex and relationship education for young people were given by:

Mark Molden highlighted the fact that we think nothing of investing in our skills and personal development when it comes to the workplace but when it comes to relationships we assume no adult education and lifelong learning is required. He described how primary interventions such as marriage preparation - promoting relational capabilitythrough education, skills, training and information have now taken their rightful place alongside interventions at key stress points in people’s lives and more commonly known specialist interventions like counselling that seek to protect people at times of identified relationship distress. Mark also spoke about research findings on the effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness, of such primary interventions, for example Marriage Care's 'Preparing Together' and 'FOCCUS' programmes. 

Harry Benson presented statistics which indicate that lone parenthood rather than divorce accounts for the majority of the costs of family breakdown. He continued by drawing attention to data indicating that, while newly married parents are doing relatively well, many new parents (particularly co-habiting ones) fare badly. Harry Benson suggested that such data suggests that policy focus should move away from relationship education for people getting married and towards new parents. He concluded his presentation with data from a recent US study indicating that the number of sexual partners before marriage is negatively associated with marital happiness in the early years of marriage. 

Jules Hillier talked about the need to put 'relationships' at the heart of sex and relationships education. She presented data showing that the majority of areas which children indicate they want SRE to include are matters to do with relationships and relating (e.g. how to avoid peer pressure to have sex; how to behave in a relationship). Jules Hillier explored the barriers to effective SRE and made a number of recommendations, including that SRE should be put into context for young people by making it part of compulsory PSHE. 

Susie McDonald presented some statistics on the percentage of young people who have experienced sexual violence, sexual bullying and harrassment, before exploring data on help-seeking behaviour among young people affected by such experiences. She talked about the 'normalising' of such behaviours as well as the new methods (e.g. 'sexting', 'slag sites', cyber-bullying) by which such behaviour is perpetrated. Susie McDonald concluded her talk by reflecting on the positive impact which Tender's arts and drama-based workshops have on young people's help-seeking, and knowledge re what constitutes a healthy relationship.