Sexual violence is a global, international, national and local issue.
Those of us working with children and young people have an absolute responsibility through our safeguarding duty to be aware of the risks to young people and the harm perpetrated to them and by them. (KCSiE 2016)
There is a growing realisation of the extent to which young people, particularly girls, are having to manage sexual harassment, unwanted sexual touching, degrading and humiliating comments, violation of personal space and physical privacy and generally hostile environments – in schools, which we would hope to believe are safe spaces.
Although 6% of boys report sexual harassment compared to 37% of girls, and this may be partly because boys feel less able to talk about it, we have to look at this as a gendered issue. Female students are more likely to describe multiple incidents and more severe cases. (IER 2017)
So we need to ask the question, are staff in schools equipped to address sexism, harassment and abuse? Evidence in the 2017 report “It’s just everywhere” would indicate that the answer is – no. Comments from contributors to the report included:
“I wasn’t aware that these incidents could be reported, no students have ever been told it is wrong to act in this way, it’s not discouraged or punished…”
“…the cover teacher was just laughing…”
“It’s just something that happens, no matter how much we don’t like it.”
So what does your school do? What more could be done?
A robust, open, inclusive Relationships and Sex Education programme within the context of a comprehensive PSHE programme, with staff who are trained, confident and competent; staff who are able to have difficult conversations; staff who believe this is a key part of the education of young people, is the only way to address this.
The DfE paper ‘Sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in schools and colleges’ December 2017, is a starting point but schools have to truly buy into this to make a difference.
We can also broaden this to include the Ending Violence Against Women and Girls strategy and the vision for 2020.
“..that there is a significant reduction in the number of VAWG victims, achieved by challenging the deeply-rooted social norms, attitudes and behaviours that discriminate against and limit women and girls, and by educating, informing and challenging young people about healthy relationships, abuse and consent..”
(Ending Violence against Women and Girls Strategy 2016 – 2020)
How do we educate our pupils about CSE, Domestic Abuse, FGM, Forced Marriage, so called ‘Honour’ Based Violence? How do we give our children the skills to question and challenge others, and protect themselves?
Please let me, Liz Bates, know if you want support and guidance to do this
Liz will be leading a session on Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) on Wednesday 9th May 2018 9am – 12pm. More information at