Schools are not safe places for girls – this must be changed
Sexual assault is rife in schools. According to BBC research 5,500 sexual offences were reported to police as having taken place in UK schools over a three-year period to July 2015, including 600 rapes. However, given the very low level of reporting the actual number is likely to be substantially higher.
The problem is so commonplace that students generally do not report it
A report by the National Education Union, and campaign group UK Feminista, tells us that
more than 1 in 3 girls report being sexually assaulted. The report claims that the problem is so commonplace that students generally do not report it with just 14% of those who experienced sexual harassment telling a teacher.
A 2016 Women and Equalities Select Committee (WESC) report highlighted widespread sexual harassment and abuse of girls at school.
The report included data from different studies:
- 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.
- Almost a third (29%) of 16–18-year-old girls say they have experienced unwanted sexual touching at school.
- 41% of UK girls aged 14 to 17 who reported an intimate relationship experienced some form of sexual violence from their partner.
- 22% of young girls aged 7–12 have experienced jokes of a sexual nature from boys.
- Nearly three-quarters (71%) of all 16–18-year-olds (boys and girls) say they hear sexual name-calling with terms such as “slut” or “slag” used towards girls at schools on a daily basis or a few times a week.
- 28% of 16–18-year-olds say they have seen sexual pictures on mobile phones at school a few times a month or more.
Sexual harassment and abuse of girls is accepted as part of daily life
The committee concluded that the evidence on sexual assault and violence in schools was deeply worrying. It found that sexual harassment and abuse of girls is accepted as part of daily life with teachers accepting sexual harassment as being “just banter”. Primary school children are learning about sex and relationships through hard-core pornography.
A poll of more than 1,300 teachers found that 39% were aware of children who had been victims of sexual harassment. 86% had dealt with pupils sharing sexual messages or images with each other. The NASUWT teachers’ union warned that cases included boys forcing girls to share inappropriate photographs of themselves and students having their faces photo-shopped on to pornographic images.
Select committee on sexual harassment and sexual violence in schools
Are we ignoring an epidemic of sexual violence in schools? (The Guardian, 12 Dec 2017)
There’s an epidemic of sexual assaults in our schools. Yet nothing is done. (The Guardian, 29 Nov 2016)
Sexual harassment ‘rife’ in schools but largely unreported, study says (The Guardian, 12 Dec 2017)
Schoolchildren are being sexually harassed by other pupils, teachers warn (Sky News, 2 April 2018)