Almost a third of young women say they have been subjected to unwanted sexual contact at school, a poll has found. Many more face harassment such as name calling on a regular basis, it said. The End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW), who commissioned the poll, is calling on ministers to address violence against girls in schools. The poll of almost 800 16 to 18-year-olds found that 29% of girls questioned had been the victim of groping, kissing or touching while at school. Around one in seven (14%) of the boys questioned said the same.
More than a third (37%) of all the young people questioned said they had heard girls being called names such as “slut” or “slag” at school on a daily basis. And less than three in 10 (29%) said they had never seen sexual pictures on mobile phones during school hours. Nearly one in four (24%) of everyone questioned said teachers had never told them that unwanted advances such as touching or name-calling were unacceptable, while a fifth (20%) said they had never received lessons or information at school about sexual consent.
EVAW chair Professor Liz Kelly said: “Not only is sexual harassment against girls at school routine, everyday and unquestioned, our results show that sexual assault is in fact commonplace in school environments. “Disturbingly, our results show that students rarely hear from their teachers that these behaviours are unacceptable. Schools are failing in their legal and ethical responsibility to effectively challenge all forms of violence against women and girls and provide safe and supportive environments for their female students.”
She added: “Violence against women and girls in our communities will not be eliminated unless the attitudes that excuse and normalise these behaviours are challenged before they are formed. The EVAW Coalition is calling for prevention through education, led by the Department for Education, to be a priority in the Coalition Government’s forthcoming strategy to tackle violence against women and girls.”