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 are we 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 our Girls in Scotland 2018 survey found sexual harassment and sexual violence are key concerns for girls and young women.

  • 33% of girls and young women aged 13-25 say they experienced sexual harassment in their local community and 21% said they experienced this while at school, college or university
  • 37% of girls aged 13-25 said they knew another girl their age who had experienced rape or sexual assault
  • 84% of girls aged 13-25 said they learnt little or nothing about sexual harassment or abuse in personal and social education

Our progress

  • 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 submitted evidence and three members spoke directly to The Equalities and Human Rights Committee review of the National Anti-Bullying Strategy. Their report includes 29 separate recommendations.
  • 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.

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.

Hannah, 20, is a Girlguiding Scotland spokesperson who helped lead on this campaign