Survey finds high demand for teaching the dangers behind gender stereotypes in primary school
ALMOST 98 PER CENT of respondents to a survey by Zero Tolerance agree that there should be specific materials used in primary education to teach children about relationships and gender stereotypes.
In the wake of the results of the survey, the charity has emphasised that given the ubiquitous nature of violence against women in society there is a need for relationship education in primary school.
Zero Tolerance claim the results of the survey supports their belief that understanding gender stereotypes is vital to educating the young and preventing violence against women. The survey of 159 Scots teachers and parents follows research from the UN this year highlighting concern that relationship education was not mandatory.
"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." Amy Marshall
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".
57 per cent of parents said they saw a significant change in the attitudes towards gender roles in their children when they made the transition from nursery to primary school.
Zero Tolerance is a Scottish charity that works to end men’s violence against women and promotes gender equality, challenging attitudes, policies and trends which normalise violence and abuse.
Its survey asked parents, teachers and support staff what they thought about how healthy relationships are taught in early primary school to children aged five to eight years old.
Parents and teachers were also asked if they felt that the education children receive introduces them to an awareness of issues such as challenging gender stereotypes and understanding what consent is.
80 per cent of respondents to the survey said they had not seen or were not aware of any specific materials for children in early primary education on navigating social relationships, however 97.5 per cent agreed they should be provided.
Fifty seven per cent of parents said they saw a significant change in the attitudes towards gender roles in their children when they made the transition from nursery to primary school.
Zero Tolerance stated that given the evidence of increasing coercion in the relationships of young people the survey shows an undeniable need for strategic and coordinated leadership.
This was supported by the opinions of respondents who felt that leadership from Education Scotland and local authorities would be a critical factor for progress in consent education and gender roles.
Marshall continued: "Young women still experience gender inequality in schools as well as growing pressure in their personal relationships from a 'pornified' culture."
"Gender based bullying limits on free expression, and sexism is no context in which young girls and boys can achieve." Amy Marshall
The survey also coincided with a new guidance book for teachers on challenging misogynistic attitudes among children and young people by the education Union EIS ,called ‘Get it Right for Girls’.
The text promotes"a whole school policy which articulates with local authority service plans in the case of schools, the precise language of which specifically addresses issues related to gender equality and violence against women, and how establishments will tackle this."
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child recently expressed concern in its 2016 'Concluding Observation' recommendations that relationship education is not mandatory in all schools and that the content of said education depended on the school.
Zero Tolerance recommended policies that would support awareness and training of staff, recognise the impact of parents on shaping attitudes, help staff to appreciate the 'whole school environment' in forming gender attitudes and cooperation to ensure policy makers explicitly understand the connection between stereotypes and violence.
Picture courtesy of Craig Marren
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