Ending sexual harassment in schools

Girlguiding Scotland is calling on the Scottish Government to take urgent action on the widespread but often hidden issue of sexual harassment in schools.

What we’re calling for:

  • Compulsory, high-quality Sex and Relationships Education covering consent, online abuse, gender equality and healthy relationships.
  • All schools to have a duty to prevent and tackle sexual harassment and be held accountable
  • National guidance to ensure schools know how to take a zero tolerance approach to sexual harassment

What our members tell us:

Research from Girlguiding’s annual Girls’ Attitude Survey has shown that sexual harassment is a top concern for girls and young women.

  •  59% of girls and young women aged 11-21 say they have experienced sexual harassment at school, including sexual taunts and unwanted touching
  • 75% said anxiety about potentially experiencing sexual harassment affects their lives in some way including 25% saying that this prevents them from speaking up in class

Find out more about the Girls’ Attitude Survey here.

Our progress so far:

Our young members have met with MSPs from across the political spectrum including John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, and spoken out on this issue and events and in the media. We also submitted evidence to The Equalities and Human Rights Committee  review of the National Anti-Bullying Strategy (you can read the evidence here) and three of our members spoke directly to the committee. The committee’s report has now been published and includes 29 separate recommendations – you can read it here

The Scottish Government has now responded to these recommendations, which include better recording of incidents involving sexual harassment and gender harassment in schools. While we welcome this important step Girlguiding Scotland believe there is still more to be done to ensure every girl feels safe and happy at school and will continue campaigning on this important issue.

 

Hannah, 20, a Girlguiding Scotland spokesperson who  helped lead on our campaign, said:

As members of Girlguiding Scotland, we have been calling for an end to the unacceptable level of sexual harassment which is taking place in our schools. It’s great that the Scottish Government has listened to us and committed to improving the recording of incidents involving sexual harassment or gender bullying.

 

However, we believe that more can and still needs to be done. We are continuing our calls for training to help teachers recognise and tackle sexual harassment in the classroom. We also believe that by providing consistent and high quality personal and social education – which covers issues like consent, healthy relationships and online abuse- schools can not only stop sexual harassment but help create a fairer society.

 

Education plays such a huge role in our lives so it is important that every girl has the opportunity to feel safe and happy at school. By taking these further actions we can create a more equal and fair Scotland for everyone.