Educate children about their bodies and boundaries

Parents, carers and schools must educate children about their bodies and boundaries so they are able to recognise sexual abuse and get help

Media Release: For immediate release Monday 8th July 2013


In response to the NSPCC 'Underwear rule' campaign launched 8 July 2013, Jane Lees, Chair of the Sex Education Forum, hosted by leading children's charity the National Children's Bureau, said:

"We welcome the NSPCC campaign which clearly spells out the vital role of parents, carers and schools in talking to children about their bodies so they are able to recognise and talk about any inappropriate sexual contact by others. The Sex Education Forum believes that learning about what is and isn't abusive sexual behavior is essential to help keep children safe from harm."

"However, recent evidence from Ofsted shows that in some schools, sex and relationships education (SRE) is limited to as little as two hours taught in the last year of primary school, often after many have already started puberty. Ofsted also found that younger pupils did not always learn the correct names for sexual parts of the body. This leaves children muddled about their own bodies and without the language to report sexual abuse."

"Currently, primary schools can choose not to provide any SRE beyond the sex education taught within science. This makes science the only compulsory part of the curriculum providing sex education. For this reason, it is crucial that primary science teaches clear basic information about how our bodies work, including the correct names for sexual organs to ensure that children have the necessary words to describe inappropriate sexual behaviour, because without this knowledge, how can they report the abuse?"

"We believe that the broader subject of SRE should be compulsory in all primary and secondary schools and should include learning about our bodies, relationships and staying safe. Good quality SRE has adequate space in the time-table, builds on learning year by year and is taught by trained educators. This ensures that issues are not dealt with in isolation and that learning starts early enough to effectively support safeguarding and good health."

The Sex Education Forum and more than 70 children's, health and youth organisations are urging the government to rethink their proposals for the science curriculum which leaves schools confused about whether or not to name genitalia.




For more information please contact the National Children's Bureau's media office on 0207 843 6045 / 47 or email For urgent enquiries out of office hours call 07721 097 033.


Notes to editors 

The Sex Education Forum

The Sex Education Forum is the national authority on sex and relationships education (SRE). We believe that good quality SRE is an entitlement for all children and young people and we are working with our 90+ member organisations - including religious, children's, parents and governor, health and education organisations - to achieve this. For further information visit: /


About the National Children's Bureau

The National Children's Bureau (NCB) is a leading charity that for 50 years has been improving the lives of children and young people, especially the most vulnerable. We work with children and for children, to influence government policy, be a strong voice for young people and practitioners, and provide creative solutions on a range of social issues. For more information visit