1 in 5 British women sexually assaulted in school – survey

© Luke MacGregor
More than a fifth of British women experienced unwanted sexual contact while in school, a new survey has found.

Children’s charity Plan UK found that 22 percent of women reported having suffered unwanted sexual touching, groping, flashing, sexual assault or rape while they were “in or around” school.

The disturbing findings, based on over 3,700 interviews including more than 2,000 women, indicate that 61 percent of the women who said they were sexually harassed never reported the abuse.

Though the charity says girls are “especially vulnerable” to sexual violence and bullying at school, the results of the survey suggest a third of adults of both genders have suffered unwanted sexual contact while at school.

Tanya Barron, of Plan UK, said: “Our findings show that schoolgirls have been suffering in silence for decades.

“We know that these experiences can have a devastating impact on their lives.

“Unwanted sexual contact can affect a young girl's self-esteem and educational achievements.

“It is extremely worrying to see that girls have been experiencing unwanted sexual contact in or around school since at least the 1940s.”

Plan UK has called for a number of measures to combat sexual violence at schools, including a comprehensive sexual education program to help young people understand healthy relationships and the nature of consent.

A government spokesperson said: “No young woman should be made to feel unsafe or suffer harassment in any circumstance.

“Sexual assault is a crime and must always be reported to the police. Sex and relationship education is already compulsory in all maintained secondary schools and we expect academies and free schools to teach it as part of the curriculum.

“We are also working with leading head teachers and practitioners to look at how to raise the quality of PSHE teaching, which includes sex and relationship education.”