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. The Equalities and Human Rights Committee launched a review of the National Anti-Bullying Strategy to examine issues relating to the bullying and harassment of children and young people based on protected characteristics. In 2017, Girlguiding Scotland submitted evidence (you can read the evidence here) and three of our members spoke directly to the committee. The report has now been published and includes 29 seperate recommendations –  you can read it here

Brownie Leader Isla Whateley, 20, shares why she’s speaking out on this issue:

A ‘boys will-be boys’ attitude to sexual harassment pushes girls into accepting behaviour that is inappropriate, encourages them to trivialise situations and implies that if they do speak out they won’t be taken seriously. Perhaps even more damaging is that girls also end up being blamed for the sexual harassment they experience. We believe this has to change and so we’re calling for action to ensure all girls and young women feel safe and happy at school.