On Thursday March 7th we held a meeting for parents on the topic of Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE). The meeting was very well attended with over 50 parents joining us on the night. Eimear Cole made a short presentation on the RSE curriculum and I spoke as Principal Teacher about some of the issues that are coming up in school. Eimear explained that the NCCA are in the process of designing a new RSE curriculum. Until the new curriculum is introduced the school will continue to adhere to the current curriculum. When children raise issues that are not on the curriculum the teachers direct the children to ask their parents about these issues.
At the meeting we explained that the school only has a small role to play in teaching children about RSE and that we are bound to stick rigidly to the heteronormative curriculum as laid down by the DES. In recent years we have become concerned by the amount of inappropriate content that comes into school – with references to crude language, pornography and comments of a sexual nature becoming more widespread. We accept that there is a natural curiosity and interest in this topic in our older classes and at the meeting we highlighted how, if not supervised online, this natural curiosity can lead to children’s exposure to adult content before they are ready for it.
In general we had a few guidelines for parents:
Talking to your child about RSE is a long term, ongoing project – it is not a once off tick-boxing exercise.
The key to all RSE lessons is teaching both self respect and respect for others.
If a child is able to frame the question then they’re ready for an answer.
It is essential to monitor your child’s online activity and to check their web browser regularly. Have a look at http://www.wriggle.ie/Online Safety#
Listen calmly to your child – if you want them to keep talking to you try to disguise your shock!
Both girls and boys need advice/protection/guidance. Try to be brave and cross the gender divide. Mothers should talk to both their sons and their daughters, fathers should do the same.
Statistics on the number and age of children accessing pornography is shocking. There are lots of articles and advice available on line if you need help with this.
We need to talk to children about consent. Articles on consent:
At the end of the meeting parents engaged in a conversation on the topic and the PTA agreed to research the idea of promoting a ‘no smart phone’ community. You will hear more about this over the next few weeks.