Prioritise RSE to fight online grooming, schools told

Children's commissioner highlights delays in RSE curriculum roll-out but urges schools to use it amid a rise in grooming
8th December 2020, 12:01am
Tes Reporter

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Prioritise RSE to fight online grooming, schools told

https://www.tes.com/magazine/news/general/prioritise-rse-fight-online-grooming-schools-told
Online Safety: Schools Should Prioritise The Rse Curriculum To Combat A Rise In Online Grooming In Coronavirus Lockdown, Says Children's Commissioner Anne Longfield

Schools should make it "a priority" to begin delivering the new RSE (relationships and sex education) curriculum as soon as possible in the light of a rise in online grooming offences that "accelerated" under lockdown, says children's commissioner Anne Longfield.

The RSE curriculum, which teaches online safety among its subjects, as well as how to report abuse, including sexual and emotional abuse, was supposed to begin in all schools from September, but it has been delayed due to the pandemic.

A report today from the Office of the Children's Commissioner reveals that a third of children say they have received something that made them feel uncomfortable on a messaging service, while one in six girls aged 14 to17 say they have received something distressing from a stranger via a private message, and one in 20 children say they have shared videos or photos of themselves with strangers.


Related: Don't label pupils' gender identity, teachers told

RSE: Teach that 'no platforming' is 'harmful', schools told

Coronavirus: Schools can delay relationships and sex education

Exclusive: Teachers need help on 'emotional' RSE change


The reports says: "Schools should begin to teach the new relationships/relationships and sex education (RSE) curriculum as soon as they can.

Safeguarding: Teaching pupils online safety

"With understandable delays due to Covid-19 closures, schools should now make it a priority to begin delivery of the RSE new curriculum. Schools should aim to equip all children with the knowledge that will help them stay safe and happy online - including how to manage their relationships with other people online, as well as recognising and reporting harmful content and contact." 

However, the report says the main responsibility for keeping children safe and happy online should lie with the platforms they use.

Ms Longfield said the report showed "how the tech giants are failing to regulate themselves and so are failing to keep children safe".

She said: "The widespread use of end-to-end encryption could put more children at risk of grooming and exploitation and hamper the efforts of those who want to keep children safe.

"It has now been 18 months since the government published its Online Harms White Paper and yet little has happened since, while the threat to children's safety increases."

The report quotes findings from the NSPCC stating that the rate of grooming offences committed in the UK "appears to have further accelerated" over the course of lockdown, with 1,220 offences recorded in just the first three months.

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