27% of secondary school pupils believe that saying no to sex does not always mean no


MORE than a quarter of Scottish secondary school pupils believe that saying no to sex does not always mean no, according to a major survey.

A study of more than 1,000 pupils in S3-S6 found that 27% believe that when a girl refuses consent she does not always mean it.

The survey also found out that a third of teenagers do not know about the dangers of sharing needles.

1,000 pupils in S3-S6 took part in the survey
1,000 pupils in S3-S6 took part in the survey


The findings were published by the Scottish Government after it surveyed teenagers about their knowledge of sexual health.

Heather Coady, head of children’s policy at Scottish Women’s Aid, said the surveys findings were worrying.

She said: “This speaks volumes about attitudes towards sex that are played out say in, day out, and which normalise all kinds of unwanted sexual behaviour.

“The shocking thing is that having to put up with unwanted sex is seen as normal for girls, and for boys believing no really means yes, which can legitimise a whole raft of behaviour.

“It is one of the most prevalent rape myths – the belief that a woman was ‘asking for it’ and no really means yes.

“We need to start listening to young people and addressing the issues that are important `to them if we are to enable them to have healthy, respectable relationships.”

The children were questioned as part of the Ipsos Mori Young People Omnibus Survey, which saw questionnaires handed out at 59 secondary schools across Scotland.

The results show that while sex education in schools, is reaching the majority, many are still ignorant of the health risks associated with unprotected intercourse and drug use.

While more than 80 per cent of children recalled being taught about the risks of illegal drugs, contraception and avoiding STIs, just over two-thirds being taught a “few” or “many” times about how to say no to sex and how to avoid catching HIV.

Just over four in ten (42%) recalled being taught about how to avoid Hepatitis C.

When presented with a statement “when a girl says no to sex, she always means no”, 73% of pupils said it was definitely or probably true.

Just over half, 55%, said they agreed that when a boy says no to sex, he always means no.

When asked whether it was difficult for girls to say no to sex or any other sexual activity, 43% per cent agreed.

The survey also found that 89% agreed that a person could change their mind about having sex at any time, even if they had previously consented.

Zero Tolerance, said its research conducted with 14 to 19-year-olds showed many children were frustrated that sex education in school failed to cover issues other than pregnancy.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “This report highlights current levels of knowledge and understanding amongst pupils, and while there are areas where further work is needed in general, we are reassured by the level of recall of teaching on sexual health.

“Our Secual Health and BBV Framework recognises the importance of evidence-informed Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenthood Education (RSHPE) and education about blood-borne viruses is included in this.

“RSHPE is an integral part of the health and wellbeing area of the curriculum is not statutory and it is for local authorities and schools to decide how to deliver the curriculum based on local needs and circumstances.

“However, we are specific about the need for children and young people to gain knowledge appropriate to their age and stage of education.

“This aspect of the curriculum is intended to enable children and young people to build positive relationships as they grow older and should present facts in an objective, balanced and sensitive manner within a framework of sound values and an awareness of the law on sexual behaviour.”