THE RAP PROJECT
“There should be an emphasis on how unrealistic porn is & how idealised social media is. There should also be an emphasis on body image, and how there are so many body types etc.” Male,16
“It would be good if the new curriculum teaches us about the law behind sexual assault & harassment. What is legal, what isn’t legal- especially when it comes to consent.” Female, 14
We hope you enjoyed a lovely summer & are now well into your new academic year. We thought we should start this September by sharing the results of our RAP RSE Survey undertaken in 2018-2019. We asked over 1000 students throughout the UK, aged 12-18, what they knew about the new RSE Guidelines, coming in 2020, and what they want from their RSE lessons. In short, we asked, What do Teenagers REALLY want to learn?
As most of you are aware, the Department for Education is introducing compulsory Relationships Education (RE) for primary pupils and Relationships & Sex Education (RSE) for secondary schools from September 2020. Our relationships with schools allows us to engage with thousands of pupils who we are then able to anonymously poll in order to try & understand their concerns, feelings & opinions. Their responses, in equal measure, are enlightening, eye-opening and at times, troubling.
We share our survey’s key findings with you below.
Q: Are you aware the Government is making RSE Guidelines mandatory in 2020?
A majority of students polled (63%) were unaware of the new RSE mandatory guidelines coming into effect. Questions around Consent remain top of their biggest concerns. Over the past couple of years, we have seen students open-up about their fears of having romantic or sexual partners. One young man from a school in North London complained that “flirting” could now, in this post #MeToo world, be construed as harassment. RAP encourages students to discuss their concerns openly whilst promoting Mutual Respect & Mutual Consent.
Q: How important do you think these topics are for RSE?
Harassment; Sexual Health; Sexual Pleasure; the Influence of Online Porn on Attitudes, Expectations & Body Image; Peer on Peer Harassment; Social Media & Sexting; Peer Pressure ranked highest.
Q: What should the new RSE curriculum prioritise in order to make teenagers feel more confident?
“The emotional aspects of sex.” Female, 14
“We should be taught how to openly express ourselves without worry of harassment and blame.” Male, 16
“We should be taught how to keep things private” Female, 14
“Self-love – it’s okay to be single, it’s okay to not have found ‘the one. It is okay to be asexual.” Female, 17
“It’s important to remind students who aren’t sure about what they want, if anything, that they don’t need to feel pressured to do things because every one else is.” Female, 16
Q: How do you think you learn best about these topics? (in order of percentage)
1. External Speakers
2. Guided Group Discussions
3. Normal Lessons
4. Online Material
Q: What should the new RSE (Relationships and Sex Education) Curriculum prioritise In order to make teenagers feel more confident?
2. Social Media
3. LGBT + Issues
4. Sexual pleasure
Q: How present are these issues at your school? (In order of importance):
1. Slut Shaming
2. Lad Culture
Q: Do you practice Discretion online?
Not Sure: 34%
It’s worth noting here that we ask each audience member about Discretion, and discuss its many meanings. But in the context of The RAP Project, we like to promote the power of discretion. No one needs to share their most private thoughts on line or images of their body parts. If two people are in a mutually respectful & mutually consensual relationship, they are free to share what they like (within legal boundaries). But we hear endless stories of young men & women who are either requested to send or are sent unsolicited photographs of an extremely sexual nature.
Q: Should there be tighter restrictions to access hardcore porn for people under 18?
Do you remember the ‘Porn Block’ that almost was? The British government introduced this block, under the Digital Economy Act 2017, in order to prevent children or young adults from accessing X-rated content. But the new laws have been delayed again, due to administrative errors. Before the delay, we shared a slide about the impending requirement for all porn websites to require age verification checks on their websites. Almost every single student and teacher we spoke with cynically agreed that with easy access to VPNs, the requirements to prove your age with Passport or Age Id would be easily ignored.
Deana & I hope that the above insight can support your work in schools. The RAP Project reflects these findings in each & every one of our Powerpoint presentations. While we keep up with current affairs regarding RAP related stories, we also do our best to stay across academic studies & other important surveys. Every August, The Children’s Society publishes its annual Good Childhood Report. This year, the report found that childhood happiness has fallen to its lowest level in a decade, with more than 200,000 children unhappy with their lives. Why? The study found a significant dip in contentment about friendships, school & an increasing unhappiness about boys & their appearance. “The proportion of boys saying they are unhappy with their looks increased to 7.7%, equivalent to 180,000. The proportion of girls unhappy with their appearance is similar to previous years at 13.8% – equivalent to 310,000,” according to the data.
The RAP Project is now in over 200 schools throughout the UK & is expanding. We are visiting more new schools, sharing our student-informed feedback as well as speaking abroad in Singapore, Bermuda, Madrid & Sydney.
Please get in touch if you are interested in learning more about our work in Primary & Secondary Schools. https://www.therapproject.co.uk
Have a great Autumn Term!
Allison Havey & Deana Puccio
Co Founders, The RAP Project
The RAP Project visiting Edinburgh Academy in Summer 2019