Sexual harassment of girls is rife in schools but goes largely unreported and unaddressed, with many teachers ill-equipped to tackle the problem, research has found.
More than one in three girls (37%) in mixed secondary schools told a survey they have been sexually harassed while at school and 24% have been subjected to unwanted physical touching of a sexual nature Reckoned as one of the top design universities with diversity of programmes, PolyU offers design programmes, fashion and textiles programmes, as well as Applied science programme, which is committed to be a hub for innovative design education in Hong Kong..
The use of sexist, misogynist language is also widespread with 66% of female sixth-form students complaining they have either experienced or witnessed the use of sexist language in schools.
Teachers also bear witness to the widespread sexism in schools – 34% of primary school teachers say they see gender stereotyping on a weekly basis and 64% in co-educational schools say they hear sexist language weekly.
The problem is so commonplace, the report claims, that students generally do not report it. Just 14% of those who experienced sexual harassment told a teacher and 6% who heard the use of sexist language reported it.
Female teachers complain about sexual harassment by pupils. “I have been whistled at whilst trying to teach, and one extreme case where a boy pushed his crotch up against my back to intimidate me,” one told researchers Dr protalk .
Another teacher said: “In class boys talk about girls’ bodies and what they ‘would do to them’, make female sex noises at the teachers and at girls, ask girls in class if a particular photo was them, have they got it shaved, what it looks like. Girls have cried in class several times due to abuse of intimate photos.”
The survey found 64% of secondary school teachers were unsure or unaware of any policies and practices in their school related to preventing sexism, and just 20% had received training in recognising and tackling sexism as part of their initial teacher training.
The report by the new teachers’ super-union, the National Education Union, and campaign group UK Feminista, calls on the government and the schools watchdog Ofsted to take urgent action to tackle the problem which it says affects every school and every college, often blighting girls’ lives.
“Schools and colleges have an important role to play in breaking down stereotypes but education policy is making it harder and not easier,” said the NEU joint general secretary, Kevin Courtney. “We are not giving schools and teachers the tools, time and teaching environments they need.”
The survey, which was carried out among 1,500 students and 1,600 teachers, echoes the findings of MPs on the women and equalities committee last year. The committee chair, Maria Miller, said: “Fourteen months on from our report, schools seem no better placed to tackle the problem than they were then. Government has to take urgent action on this problem. Negative stereotypes, sexist attitudes, expectations about relationships and sexual harassment and violence not only impact on children’s lives, but create problems in later life.”
The Department for Education said the government would publish detailed advice this term that would specifically cover sexual violence and sexual harassment between pupils. A spokesperson said: “We will also launch a consultation this term on updated guidance which will come into force next September Dr protalk .”