Sussex Counselling & Psychotherapy
'Widespread' sexual harassment and violence in schools
Report by the Women and Equalities Committee exposes the shocking scale of sexual harassment and sexual violence that is not being tackled effectively in English schools.
The report outlines evidence that:
- Almost a third (29%) of 16-18 year old girls say they have experienced unwanted sexual touching at school.
- Nearly three-quarters (71%) of all 16-18 year old boys and girls say they hear terms such as "slut" or "slag" used towards girls at schools
on a regular basis.
- 59% of girls and young women aged 13-21 said in 2014 that they had faced some form of sexual harassment at school or college in the past year.
Everyday Sexism Project
Young people told the Committee that sexual harassment has become a normal part of school life with "calling women bitches and stuff like that… a common thing that you see in school, on a daily basis really." This view was supported by evidence from Laura Bates of the Everyday Sexism Project who described sexual harassment and sexual violence in schools as "a widespread, regular and common problem [and] something that the majority of girls are experiencing."
The report finds an alarming inconsistency in how schools deal with sexual harassment and violence, which is mostly targeted at girls, a disregard for existing national and international equality obligations, and a lack of guidance and support for teachers.
MPs heard evidence that many schools are under-reporting incidents and often failing to take them seriously. The Committee was told by young people that their reports would be "forgotten about really easily and no action will be taken about what happened." Academics and specialists working in schools warned that sexual harassment and sexual violence was too often accepted as the norm by both staff and students.
Despite calls from parents, teachers and young people for action to address sexual harassment and sexual violence in schools, the Committee found that neither OFSTED nor the Department for Education has a coherent plan to tackle this issue and to monitor the scale of the problem.