We’re sad but not surprised to read Ofsted’s report about what’s going on in schools across the country. As a charity that works with young people up to the age of 25, and especially those between the ages of 11-21, an issue of concern that arises particularly often is the ease with which image-based sexual abuse, such as the demanding and exchanging of explicit photos, can happen and be shared. There is, understandably, a gap between the kinds of harassment young people are experiencing and the types of issues that teachers and adults are equipped to help with.
As the world moves increasingly online with young people at the helm of the change, social media, internet pornography sites and other digital platforms often become spaces unregulated by older authoritative figures simply due to lack of understanding. And the pace of change is really fast – it’s understandably too much to expect all adults working with and supporting young people to keep up at all times.
At Fumble, we recognise that school will never be the site of truly relevant and impactful sex education – instead, from our experience of being the first generation to grow up alongside smartphones, we believe the online world is where this will happen. We’re a new youth charity in the UK, offering a free, engaging, comprehensive, safe and healthy online sex education platform: created with young people, for young people. We know young people (we are young people!) use the internet to ask questions about sex, relationships, health and wellbeing, and a lot of content currently available for this is not appropriate, safe or positive.
Indeed, much of it is actively harmful: a significant and increasing number of young people use pornography as sex education. The BBFC, for example, has found that young people feel that sex education in school does not prepare them enough, and instead they use pornography to learn ‘what to do’ during sex. The same survey found that over 40% of young people who knew about pornography believed that watching it made “people less respectful of the opposite sex”. That’s a big part of the problem, and plays a huge role in the normalisation of non-consensual sexual behaviour in schools. We at Fumble offer an urgently-needed healthy, happy, alternative voice online.
We’re currently working on a research project with the University of Surrey to transform school cultures when it comes to relationships and sex education issues. Find out more about that here.
Support us to continue to drive change for young people, especially young women and girls: donate to Fumble here.