Barnardo’s says much more needs to be done to protect children from sexual abuse, exploitation, and extremism, so is launching a new version of its educational programme, Real Love Rocks.
It comes after the results from an Ofsted rapid review of sexual abuse in schools and colleges. The investigation took place after the Everyone’s Invited website revealed testimonials which showed how prevalent sexual abuse has been in schools over the years.
Ofsted found that almost four-fifths (79%) of girls surveyed had been sexually assaulted. Eighty-one per cent had been the subject of rumours about sexual activity and 80% had faced inappropriate or unwanted sexual comments.
And a report from the Internet Watch Foundation showed that last year was the highest year on record for online child sexual abuse. (https://www.theguardian.com/society/2022/jan/13/2021-was-worst-year-on-record-for-online-child-sex-abuse-says-iwf)
Barnardo’s originally launched Real Love Rocks in 2014 and 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.
These include child sexual abuse, child sexual exploitation, criminal exploitation, radicalisation and extremism.
This edition 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 children and 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. And they have been designed in collaboration with young people who have bravely shared their experiences.
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.
“We hope Real Love Rocks will help teachers to tackle difficult topics in the classroom, including sexual abuse and criminal exploitation.”
Both the primary and secondary education packs and the website have been designed to engage children and young people in a fun and empowering way through animations, activities, and games.
The primary school edition of the resources has been designed for use with 10 and 11-year-olds with topics including feelings, brains and bodies, relationship, grooming, exploitation and abuse, and online safety.
Topics covered in the secondary school edition are feelings, brains and bodies, relationships and consent, grooming and exploitation, and technology and relationships.
All the issues are tackled in a trauma-informed and age-appropriate way, for example activities around consent for secondary school children start with a discussion about someone’s phone being taken without their consent.
Other activities include understanding what sexual harassment is, where children explore dilemmas, identify and challenge behaviours and learn about who can help if it is happening.
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.
And the online safety section encourages children to explore what they watch online and how this makes them feel.
It also includes activities around misinformation, scams and inappropriate content to help children navigate the multiple harms they face in our ever-changing modern world.
The resources and website (https://barnardosrealloverocks.org.uk/) include everything teachers, school counsellors, youth workers and other professionals will need to run the programme for children and young people.