Is sexual harassment endemic in education?

‘More than half of girls and young women have experienced some form of sexual harassment at school or college, a scathing report published on Tuesday has found.

Almost a third of 16 to 18-year-old girls said they have experienced unwanted sexual touching at school and 71% of all 16 to 18-year-olds said they hear terms such as “sl*t” or “sl*g” used towards girls at schools on a regular basis.

A staggering 59% of girls and young women aged 13 to 21 said in 2014 that they had faced some form of sexual harassment at school or college in the past year.

The startling statistics have been published by the Women and Equalities Committee, revealing the shocking scale of sexual harassment and sexual violence that is not being tackled effectively in British schools.

Maria Miller, chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee, said: “Our inquiry has revealed a concerning picture.

“We have heard girls talk about sexual bullying and abuse as an expected part of their everyday life; with teachers accepting sexual harassment as ‘just banter’; and parents struggling to know how they can best support their children.

“It is difficult to explain why any school would allow girls to be subjected to sexual harassment and violent behaviour that has been outlawed in the adult workplace.

“The evidence shows it is undermining the confidence of young women. Failing to reinforce what is acceptable behaviour could well be fuelling the ‘Lad Culture’ that the Government has already identified as a problem in colleges and universities.”

Jane Lees, chair of the Sex Education Forum, said: “That sexual violence and harassment in schools is so widespread is disturbing, but it is not inevitable.

“Inquiry after inquiry has shown the protective power of sex and relationships education (SRE) – it helps children know what type of behaviour is acceptable and unacceptable, leads to earlier reporting of sexual abuse and to reductions in sexual violence and coercion.” – Huffington Post


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