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Educational programme launched to raise awareness of abuse

Barnardo’s has launched an educational programme for schools to raise awareness of different types of abuse and exploitation that children and young people may experience.

The charity has re-launched its Real Love Rocks programme after Ofsted found that almost four-fifths (79%) of girls surveyed had been sexually assaulted, 81% had been the subject of rumours about sexual activity and 80% had faced inappropriate or unwanted sexual comments.

Barnardo’s Chief Executive Lynn Perry said: “All children and young people need access to high quality, age-appropriate information and advice about issues like consent, healthy relationships and the risk of harm on and offline.

“Our new resources are designed to help children understand their emotions, empathise with others, and develop the support networks we know are vital,” she added.

The Ofsted rapid review of sexual abuse in schools and colleges took place after the Everyone’s Invited website revealed testimonials which showed how prevalent sexual abuse has been in schools over the years.

Originally launched in 2014, Real Love Rocks has updated and refreshed the resources to reflect and raise awareness of different types of abuse and exploitation that children and young people may experience. This includes child sexual abuse, child sexual exploitation, criminal exploitation, radicalisation and extremism.

It also emphasises the importance of emotional regulation and creating a support network of safe and trusted people. There are also sections about developing kindness, understanding and empathy for both themselves and others.

The age-appropriate resources have been designed to help teachers and other professionals talk to young people about difficult issues such as consent, grooming, technology, bullying, pornography, sexual harassment and appropriate and inappropriate relationships. 

They have been produced with the Department for Education’s statutory guidance about Relationships Education in primary schools and Relationships and Sex Education in secondary schools in mind, in collaboration with young people who have bravely shared their experiences.

Activities for primary school children include talking through different scenarios like not being invited to play with friends or being dared to do challenges that are not okay and discussing how these things would make them feel. It also includes activities around misinformation, scams and inappropriate content to help children navigate harms they face in the changing modern world.

Lynn Perry concluded: “We hope Real Love Rocks will help teachers to tackle difficult topics in the classroom, including sexual abuse and criminal exploitation.”

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