Young girls groped, sexually insulted every day at school - report
According to research by the Women and Equalities Committee, those girls who dared to complain about the harassment were told “boys will be boys” or that the comments were merely a joke. Sexist remarks and sexual harassment, unlike homophobia and racism, are currently rarely recorded by teachers and school officials.
“Our inquiry has revealed a concerning picture,” said committee chair and Tory backbencher Maria Miller. “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 behavior that has been outlawed in the adult workplace. The evidence shows it is undermining the confidence of young women.”
The report also states that the “slapping of bums and flicking [lifting up] of skirts” was common and that a teacher recounted they had “many young girls sobbing and humiliated in my office” due to pictures of their naked or partially naked bodies being shared online by the original receiver.
The easy access to online pornography was blamed for the sexist and offensive behavior of young men, who without school guidance on the topic end up with unrealistic views on sex and relationships.
“We know that significant numbers of young people access pornography online and it becomes part of the way they learn about sex and relationships, but for me, one of the most important things is that if we are starting to talk to young people about pornography, we include their parents in that as well,” Miller added.
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) said the problem had been “swept under the carpet” for years and that the findings were “sadly - not new.”
But teachers hit back, arguing that while sex and relationships education was vital, it was the government’s fault that there’s been an increase in sexual harassment towards girls inside the classroom.
“Government education policies hinder schools' ability to tackle sexual harassment and sexual bullying effectively by leaving no time for pastoral care or personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) within the curriculum or school day,” said National Union of Teachers general secretary Kevin Courtney.
"Support and guidance from the Department for Education about how to best mitigate the effects of sexual harassment and sexual violence is urgently required."