The first parliamentary inquiry into the scale and impact of sexual harassment and sexual violence in schools has been launched by the Women and Equalities Committee, and welcomed by Bath MP Ben Howlett.
It comes as new research shows how young people are being affected by this problem.
Prior to launching this inquiry, the Committee gathered the views of 300 young people from across the UK through a series of workshops run by Fixers.
These findings were published yesterday. Young people reported that:
- Schools are not playing their part in recognising the pressures young people are under when dealing with matters of sexual harassment and sexual bullying;
- Teachers may brush off incidents of sexual assaults or sexually threatening behaviour because of students relatively young ages.
- Many incidents go unreported because students are worried that victims will be punished as well as perpetrators.
“Lad culture is a big issue; it is really common. In my school lads would come up to girls and grab their ass, try and push them into the changing rooms and stuff and then say don’t get upset it’s just banter.” said Gemma, 22.
“Say, if your bra got undone they would give a warning and that would be the last of it. [Teachers] wouldn’t really bring it up, they’d tell them to ‘sit down, stop messing around, do your work’ and then it wouldn’t get reported anywhere else.” reported Ella, 17.
“At my school a girl was pressured into performing oral sex on an older boy in school. They were caught and both suspended for the same amount of time. I can see it is difficult for schools to get that right.
“They’ve got to be seen to be doing something, keeping the school’s reputation in check and deciding what to do is a tricky business. Schools are not equipped to deal with emotional analysis.” said Charlotte, 18.
Ben Howlett, member of the Committee and Member of Parliament for Bath, said: ‘It’s clear from the young people we’ve heard from that sexual harassment and sexual violence in schools is having a profound impact on their day to day lives.
“We need to address this issue now, and stop it from blighting the lives of another generation of young people – both male and female.
“We’re asking teachers, students, parents, youth organisations and anyone else with an interest in this subject to share their knowledge and experience with us.
“We’ll use this evidence to find the most effective measures to reduce levels of sexual harassment and sexual violence in schools.”