Leave the website

Report shows growing need for relationship education in early primary and the early years

Report shows growing need for relationship education in early primary and the early years

This week Zero Tolerance releases its Healthy Relationships in Early Primary education survey findings. The survey asked parents, teachers and support staff their thoughts on the landscape of healthy relationships education in early primary in Scotland (aged 5-8). They were also asked whether they felt the education that children did receive had introduced an awareness of important issues such as challenging gender stereotypes and understanding consent.

  • 80% of respondents reported that they were not aware of any specific materials available for children aged 5-8 on navigating social relationships, but 97.5% of respondents agreed that they should
  • Respondents highlighted that where resources were available, these were limited in being able to provide a sense of how gender affects understanding of healthy relationships
  • 57% of parents reported seeing a marked change in attitudes towards gender roles displayed by their children when making the transition from nursery to primary school suggesting this is a key time for intervention
  • Respondents felt that leadership from Education Scotland and local authorities was important in taking this issue forward

The findings come at a time of increased awareness around the needs of young people growing up in a world that is fraught with a variety of conflicting messages around relationships. These can have long lasting effects, including sexual problems. Previously thought to be confined to older generations, a recent survey showed that young women are more likely to be affected by this, with 44.4% of sexually active young women experiencing at least one problem with their ability to enjoy sex in the past year, compared with 33.8% of young men.

Of particular concern, is a lack of understanding around gender stereotypes and their relationship to violence against women. Young women still experience gender inequality in schools  as well as growing pressure in their personal relationships from a pornified culture. The evidence of increasing coercion in teen relationships  shows the undeniable need for strategic leadership to foster healthy attitudes at the earliest possible opportunity. 

Amy Marshall from Zero Tolerance said

‘We believe it is never too early to question what is seen as ‘normal’ or what is traditionally expected of boys and girls in our society. In fact, doing so from a very young age helps to protect children from the negative consequences of inequality and discrimination as they grow into adults.

Now presents an excellent opportunity for the Scottish Government and Education Scotland to consider how to close the gender gap in education; the one which prevents young people from achieving their full potential and which can lead to discrimination and inequality in later years. Our report shows that there is so much more to be done, and that our participants want to see leadership in this policy area.

Action taken now, in the early years, will actively contribute to the prevention of violence by beginning to dismantle some of the ingrained gender stereotypes that facilitate violence against women.

Gender based bullying limits on free expression ,and sexism is no context in which young girls and boys can achieve’.


Notes for the editor

  1. Zero Tolerance is a Scottish charity working to end men’s violence against women by promoting gender equality and by challenging attitudes which normalise violence and abuse. Find out more about Zero Tolerance on our website.
  2. Read the Early Primary and primary education survey, as well as Zero Tolerance’s work around gender in early years on the website.
  3. Large number of young people experience sex problems, study finds - Guardian
  4. Get it Right For Girls - EIS
  5. Partner exploitation and violence in teenage intimate relationships - NSPCC
Healthy relationships in early primary settings.pdf
Added: August 25, 2016
623.21 KB



Latest News

Under Pressure Train the Trainer Programme: 2018 sessions

MoreJuly 2, 2018

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child - free training tool

MoreJune 11, 2018

Latest Blog

Zero Tolerance 1992 Campaign: Political and Media Response

MoreJune 29, 2018

Spotlight on the media: why are we still blaming the victim?

MoreMay 4, 2018