We are pleased to announce that on 4 March 2024 the Minister of Health confirmed a 12 month extension to our adult sexual abuse counselling service until 31 March 2025. Whilst we work with the Department on what this new service offering will look like, please continue to use our referral form here and our team will be in touch.

We are pleased to announce that on 4 March 2024 the Minister of Health confirmed a 12 month extension to our adult sexual abuse counselling service until 31 March 2025. Whilst we work with the Department on what this new service offering will look like, please continue to use our referral form here and our team will be in touch.

Nexus Response

Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) Consultation

 

Nexus Response

Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) Consultation

#BreakTheCycle

Nexus Consultation Response:

Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) Consultation

Nexus is a provider of Relationship and Sexuality Education as well as a therapeutic intervention service for people impacted by sexual abuse and abusive relationships. As such we welcome these measures to mandate comprehensive, continuous, and fact-based RSE in grant aided post-primary schools. Our organisation strongly believes, based on our work, research, and external evidence, that educating and supporting our children and young people is key to promoting healthy relationships in all areas of life. Therefore, we welcomed the opportunity to share our knowledge and learning through this Consultation exercise. 

The following comments, suggestions, and questions are based on our expertise and experience delivering RSE across Northern Ireland, feedback and suggestions from children and young people, as well as our research into developing good practice to support, inform, and advise them. The consultation contained a number of Statements which asked respondents to indicate if we agree, disagree or neither agree nor disagree with the Statements.  You can view snippets of each of our responses below and view the full response here or by clicking the image below.

Question 1: The content of teaching and learning resources for Learning for Life and Work developed by CCEA should be factual and contain age-appropriate, comprehensive and scientifically accurate education on sexual and reproductive health and rights, covering prevention of early pregnancy and access to abortion and these resources should not advocate, or oppose, a particular view on the moral and ethical considerations of abortion or contraception. 

Nexus agrees with the Statement, with the following qualifications: 

We believe that one of the best ways to create a society free from sexual abuse and abusive relationships is to provide fully comprehensive and accessible relationship and sexuality education that, while includes, is not solely focused on sexual and reproductive health and rights, this point would need to be emphasised more clearly by the departmentBy providing a fully comprehensive programme we increase the potential that every young person is confident in their ability to engage in healthy and consensual relationships and intimacy, to support and advocate for themselves and their peers and friends, and to challenge abusive behaviours. 

      Nexus Consultation Response: Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) Consultation

      To provide a fully comprehensive programme it must be recognised that RSE is multifaceted: it is a social issue, a health issue and an education issue. Young people deserve an education that will enable them to feel comfortable in their own bodies, understand what consent actually means and to advocate for their needs and boundaries.  

      We also advocate for rigorous monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to ensure that children and young people are receiving consistent, and factual information across all educational settings. It is important that an in-depth description of how this monitoring would be carried out, by whom, and how often, is implemented as part of the commitment to consistent, accessible, and factual RSE. 

      Question 2: Parents/carers should be informed about the specific nature and content of the age-appropriate, comprehensive and scientifically accurate education on sexual and reproductive health and rights, covering prevention of early pregnancy and access to abortion.

      Nexus agrees with the Statement, with the following qualifications: 

      We advocate for a partnership between young people, parents, and teachers when it comes to learning and promoting a safe space to ask questions about relationships and sexuality. RSE is for everyone, and parents should be part of the conversation and part of that knowledge sharing in order to continue educating their children at home and facilitating conversations that may arise after RSE sessions. However, we want to emphasise that there must be a clear and evidence-based reason for singling out RSE policies and plans as opposed to sharing the entire year’s curriculum for feedback and consideration. By treating RSE as a removed and separate subject, there is a misconception that RSE is a cause for concern for parents rather than as integral to children and young people’s education as any other subjects. 

      We believe that comprehensive, accessible RSE includes dispelling myths around the content of RSE to help parents better understand what their child is learning and why they should take part. Misinformation poses a significant risk to the wellbeing and education of children and young people as well as their parents and guardians, ultimately hindering health development and contributing to the stigma of healthy relationships and sexuality that results in a shame-based culture. Nexus believes in dispelling misinformation and de-mystifying RSE by directly communicating to parents and guardians and involving them in the educational journey. 

      Question 3: The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child includes at Articles 1-3 and 12 the rights of the child to ‘express their views, feelings and wishes in all matters affecting them, and to have their views considered and taken seriously’ and at Article 5 ‘the rights and responsibilities of parents and carers to provide guidance and direction to their child as they grow up so that they fully enjoy their rights. This must be done in a way that recognises the child’s increasing capacity to make their own choices.’ The Department’s guidance, when developed, should consider in such instances how schools balance the rights of both children and parents/carers in implementing the regulations. 

      Nexus disagrees with this Statement for the following reasons: 

      Nexus recognises the healthy, informed, and consensual autonomy of children over their own bodies and relationships. We believe in the rights of the child as well as the safeguarding role of parents, carers, and teachers. It is important that due regard is given to guidance and provision for the children and young people who are keen to receive RSE but whose parents or guardians want to remove the student from the programme. This scenario is important to preserving the rights of the child to accessing factual information and a full education and underpins the need to also provide parents and guardians with robust and factual information.

      Question 4: Pupils and parents/carers should have access to an overview of their school’s RSE policy and planned RSE programme.

      Nexus agrees with the Statement, with the following qualifications: 

      We believe in full transparency to dispel any myths, misinformation and misconceptions about the content and purpose of the programme. By sharing the policy and programme with parents and carers, there is an increased partnership between educators and the other important people in a child’s life that will positively inform and influence our young people’s future relationships with themselves and others. Sharing the policy and programme also gives parents and carers the opportunity to share ideas, feedback, and act as their child’s advocate. The schools RSE policy should be available alongside other policies such as the bullying policy, the safeguarding policy and the uniform policy for example.

      If you have any queries about this consultation response, please contact communications@nexusni.org

      Nexus Consultation Response: Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) Consultation
      Question 1: The content of teaching and learning resources for Learning for Life and Work developed by CCEA should be factual and contain age-appropriate, comprehensive and scientifically accurate education on sexual and reproductive health and rights, covering prevention of early pregnancy and access to abortion and these resources should not advocate, or oppose, a particular view on the moral and ethical considerations of abortion or contraception.

      Nexus agrees with the Statement, with the following qualifications: 

      We believe that one of the best ways to create a society free from sexual abuse and abusive relationships is to provide fully comprehensive and accessible relationship and sexuality education that, while includes, is not solely focused on sexual and reproductive health and rights, this point would need to be emphasised more clearly by the department.  By providing a fully comprehensive programme we increase the potential that every young person is confident in their ability to engage in healthy and consensual relationships and intimacy, to support and advocate for themselves and their peers and friends, and to challenge abusive behaviours.

      To provide a fully comprehensive programme it must be recognised that RSE is multifaceted: it is a social issue, a health issue and an education issue. Young people deserve an education that will enable them to feel comfortable in their own bodies, understand what consent actually means and to advocate for their needs and boundaries.  

      We also advocate for rigorous monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to ensure that children and young people are receiving consistent and factual information across all educational settings. It is important that an in-depth description of how this monitoring would be carried out, by whom, and how often, is implemented as part of the commitment to consistent, accessible, and factual RSE. 

      Question 2: Parents/carers should be informed about the specific nature and content of the age-appropriate, comprehensive and scientifically accurate education on sexual and reproductive health and rights, covering prevention of early pregnancy and access to abortion

      Nexus agrees with the Statement, with the following qualifications: 

      We advocate for a partnership between young people, parents, and teachers when it comes to learning and promoting a safe space to ask questions about relationships and sexuality. RSE is for everyone, and parents should be part of the conversation and part of that knowledge sharing in order to continue educating their children at home and facilitating conversations that may arise after RSE sessions. However, we want to emphasise that there must be a clear and evidence-based reason for singling out RSE policies and plans as opposed to sharing the entire year’s curriculum for feedback and consideration. By treating RSE as a removed and separate subject, there is a misconception that RSE is a cause for concern for parents rather than as integral to children and young people’s education as any other subjects. 

      We believe that comprehensive, accessible RSE includes dispelling myths around the content of RSE to help parents better understand what their child is learning and why they should take part. Misinformation poses a significant risk to the wellbeing and education of children and young people as well as their parents and guardians, ultimately hindering health development and contributing to the stigma of healthy relationships and sexuality that results in a shame-based culture. Nexus believes in dispelling misinformation and de-mystifying RSE by directly communicating to parents and guardians and involving them in the educational journey. 

      Question 3: The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child includes at Articles 1-3 and 12 the rights of the child to ‘express their views, feelings and wishes in all matters affecting them, and to have their views considered and taken seriously’ and at Article 5 ‘the rights and responsibilities of parents and carers to provide guidance and direction to their child as they grow up so that they fully enjoy their rights. This must be done in a way that recognises the child’s increasing capacity to make their own choices.' The Department's guidance, when developed, should consider in such instances how schools balance the rights of both children and parents/carers in implementing the regulations.

      Nexus disagrees with this Statement for the following reasons: 

      Nexus recognises the healthy, informed, and consensual autonomy of children over their own bodies and relationships. We believe in the rights of the child as well as the safeguarding role of parents, carers, and teachers. It is important that due regard is given to guidance and provision for the children and young people who are keen to receive RSE but whose parents or guardians want to remove the student from the programme. This scenario is important to preserving the rights of the child to accessing factual information and a full education and underpins the need to also provide parents and guardians with robust and factual information. We call for a robust protocol for handling these scenarios that ensures the rights of the child are met. 

      Question 4: Pupils and parents/carers should have access to an overview of their school's RSE policy and planned RSE programme.

      Nexus agrees with the Statement, with the following qualifications: 

      We believe in full transparency to dispel any myths, misinformation and misconceptions about the content and purpose of the programme. By sharing the policy and programme with parents and carers, there is an increased partnership between educators and the other important people in a child’s life that will positively inform and influence our young people’s future relationships with themselves and others. Sharing the policy and programme also gives parents and carers the opportunity to share ideas, feedback, and act as their child’s advocate. The schools RSE policy should be available alongside other policies such as the bullying policy, the safeguarding policy and the uniform policy for example.

      If you have any queries about this consultation response, please contact communications@nexusni.org

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