A boys’ school in St Albans, Hertfordshire, teaches consent, sexual violence and domestic violence following the murders of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa.
Julie Richardson, Principal of the Verulam School, has partnered with Survivors UK, a charity for sexual abuse, to teach young men about relationships.
The association held sessions with boys aged 14 and 15 on consent on a range of topics including sexual violence, domestic violence and cyber flash.
A government-commissioned Ofsted survey in June this year found that more than half of students had experienced unwanted touching at school while 90 percent of girls had been given explicit photos.
Miss Richardson, the school’s very first female principal in its 83-year history, said the school wanted to help young men develop healthy relationships with adults.
She said, âLet’s be frank, this has been a problem in schools for many years.
âThis is something we need to address, although many are not.
âFor us, this is not a checkbox exercise. It is an integral part of our study program and is as important to me as English and Mathematics.
âI want our students to pursue their dreams, to be emotionally, mentally and spiritually safe and successful, and to perform well in school.
âFor me, schools have failed if their children leave with good exam results but aren’t comfortable in their skin or feel like they don’t belong to them.
âBringing in expertise and people who are used to answering some of the really difficult questions that young people will sometimes ask about consent and domestic violence will increase tenfold. These people are experts in their field.
âThere is still a worrying amount of violence against women, not only in this country, but globally, the majority of perpetrators are men. Sabina Nessa and before her Sarah Everard are other tragic examples of the importance of educating the next generation of young men.
âIt is time for people to stop talking and take action. At Verulam, we lead the action, without waiting for the company to catch up â.
Sam Thomson, Outreach and Engagement Manager for Survivors UK, added: âI think what Verulam and Julie are doing is frankly amazing.
âInstead of going under the rug, the school is meeting these challenges head on.
âThis is exactly what every school in the country should be doing, taking a proactive approach to a very important problem.
âI was very satisfied with the responses from the boys. They showed great maturity and seemed to take ownership of what we were saying.
âIt’s a process and it’s about education. We teach these young men to be good partners, fathers, there is nothing more important than that.