LONDON – Sexual harassment and online sexual abuse have become so endemic to young people in Britain that it has been effectively normalized, students said a government statement released on Thursday, a worrying sign of a long-standing problem that women and girls in particular are experiencing in schools, online and in their everyday lives.
About 90 percent of the girls from 32 schools and colleges surveyed by education regulators said sexist naming and incidents to which they were explicitly sent occurred at least ‘sometimes’, and students said education for sexual health and relationships was inadequate wash. .
The review came after that a campaign through the online platform Everyone’s Invited earlier this year, in which thousands of young women and girls in Britain shared disturbing testimonies of sexual violence, sexism and misogyny they experienced as students.
Such behavior was so common, some students told government inspectors, that they see no point in reporting it, and that the fear of being isolated by their peers outweighs stopping the behavior.
Many girls reported that they were repeatedly asked to share explicit photos of themselves, and that boys talked about the images they received of girls and shared them in an online chat group with their friends, such as a ” collection game ”.
In the survey of 900 students, it was found that harmful sexual behavior often took place without supervision in places outside the school, such as parks or parties, where drugs and alcohol were regularly involved.
Relationship and sexual health education in schools was also ‘too little, too late’, students said, noting that it did not equip them with the skills needed for the difficult situations in their lives. Some students said they are afraid of reporting unwanted harassment to adults or school staff because they are afraid of being rejected or blamed by their peers.
“It is worrying that many children and young people, especially girls, feel they have to accept sexual harassment as part of their growing up years,” said Amanda Spielman, chief inspector of Ofsted, the government department responsible for the investigation.
School officials should assume that sexual harassment occurs, the review concluded, and it recommended a series of measures, including a “careful sequence” curriculum on relationships and sexual health that includes a discussion of topics such as sexual harassment, sexual violence and consent. .
The inquiry was commissioned by the Department of Education in March after women and girls shared thousands of reports of sexual abuse and harassment they experienced as students earlier this year at Everyone’s Invited, a platform set up by Soma Sara last summer. a former student at University College London.
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Mrs. Sara said she was encouraged by the government’s recognition that the case is pervasive in all schools, adding that it is a reflection of a broader rape culture.
“Young people just feel they have to deal with this behavior of sexual harassment and abuse because they think it’s just part of growing up,” she added, adding that many people are afraid to report it to the authorities, it will only be a shame , blame and a loss of control.
Anonymous ways of reporting incidents of sexual harassment are crucial, she said, something the review did not fail to do. To ’emphasize the seriousness and extent of the problem’, Ms. Sara said they had disclosed the names of about 3,000 schools mentioned by people in their accounts.
In response to the review, the government said it would devote more resources strengthening the curriculum and training staff at schools and colleges to better recognize sexual harassment and abuse, as well as to educate students on issues around consent, pornography, and healthy relationships.
Government officials have said they will consult with technology companies, law enforcement and child advocates on measures to protect children online.
Jessica Ringrose, a professor of sociology at University College London, and an expert on gender, sexuality and education, said the fact that it was running a grassroots campaign to renew the focus on a long-standing issue “total, neglect on the part of the government.”
A former government committee also found in 2017 that sexual harassment for girls was normalized in schools, and the government dragged its feet over the implementation of sex education that was addressed the harassment experienced by schoolgirls in the digital age, she said.
“How many more reports, reviews, inquiries do we need?” Me. Ringrose said. Schools need dedicated staff to support students who experience sexual harassment and abuse, and men and boys who have committed such abuse should be prosecuted for their behavior.
And with the added burden of the pandemic, she questioned whether schools would be given the means to carry out the recommendations.
“How will the government implement the recommendations?” she asked.