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Sexual bullying - time for schools to act to protect girls?

(66 Posts)
KateMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 11-Oct-12 13:14:28

Today's guest blog is from Holly Dustin, from the End Violence Against Women Coalition, which this week launched its Schools Safe 4 Girls campaign.

As evidence mounts that teenage girls are increasingly vulnerable to sexual bullying - and even violence - both in and out of school, Holly's written a powerful post urging schools to do more to protect and empower girls, and to educate both girls and boys about sexual consent.

Have a look, and tell us what you think. Is this something that you remember from school - or something that you're concerned about for your own children? Would you be prepared, as Holly urges, to talk to your own school about how it protects girls?

If you blog about this, (or about International Day of Girl, which is today) let us know here on the thread. Or add your post to our linky - we'll be tweeting them over the next few days.

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Thu 11-Oct-12 22:11:16

I'm not saying that at all, and I have always disputed the commonly held opinion of a lot of MN that EVERY man looks at hardcore porn. My DH certainly doesn't and I know that.

Soft porn has ceased to be enough and the spread of much harder stuff has contributed to the reversal of strides made for the equality of women. This has been accompanied by the normalisation of sex in every part of life - it's ceased to be part of your private life and it's everywhere. Everywhere.

marshmallowpies Thu 11-Oct-12 22:11:29

It happened to me aged 11-13 on the school bus where there were no teachers, no-one in authority and no way of escaping it (no other way home). It was pretty much me being molested, taunted with crude language and tormented for half an hour every day.

I used to dread the end of the school day. I was bullied at school itself, which was bad enough, but being trapped on the bus with nowhere to go was even worse.

Solution? Have a female teacher ride on all school buses to monitor behaviour, perhaps?

R, not that you'd be reading this, I hate you so much for the way you treated me. It made my school days a misery and it took years for me to trust people and have real friends, let alone boyfriends.

rockinhippy Thu 11-Oct-12 22:27:39

I couldn't tucking agree more with your last statement on internet restriction, tv too, should never be an opt out situation with gay rabbit, rabbit tv, + all the bloody rest of them, might not be accessible, but the front covers are bad enough [rolls eyes] unfortunately it means p!rents who either can't be bothered, or don't know how end up with kids too young to view + process healthily, end up mimicking + becoming sex pests

rockinhippy Thu 11-Oct-12 22:31:45

Sorry wonder but I disagree, most if not all men look at porn at sometime in their lives, most men aren't sex pests. I do believe kids exposed to it too young, especially the hardcore stuff however has an effect.

wonderstuff Thu 11-Oct-12 22:39:04

Exposing children to sexually inappropriate material is also deemed to be sexual abuse.

LindsayWagner Thu 11-Oct-12 22:49:16

I think porn is the problem - or a massive part of it - for the generation that was 11/12 when internet porn became available.

I don't respect men who use porn and don't look into the realities of its production.

But even I can see that they are massively more capable of swerving away from the hideous gag-porn/public humiliation porn/'rape' porn which is 2 clicks away from entering the word 'porn' into google, than the 10/11/12 year old boys who are accessing it right now.

Good luck, porn pollyannas! I hate the world that you're so busy ideologising, against the evidence that the rest of us can see with our fricking eyes.

trice Fri 12-Oct-12 09:23:36

I was sexually assaulted at school by the head boy. He actually did say "You know you want it" while he was doing it. He must have been using porn to learn the "script". I would have laughed if I wasn't too busy being angry, disbelieving and afraid. Teenage boys are much stronger than teenage girls and he completely physically overpowered me, all my self defense training was completely useless.

I was not particularly attractive or popular. So my mum advised me not to tell anyone as people would not believe me. I told my friends, and she was right, they didn't believe me. I am still angry about it now 25 years later.

It happened to a girl at ds's school just this year. The captain of the rugby team pinned a quiet mousy girl against the wall in the corridor and put his hands in her pants. There were lots of witnesses. She was told not to make a fuss as it was just a bit of fun.

It makes me incredibly angry and frustrated. I don't know what can be done.

PlentyOfPubeGardens Fri 12-Oct-12 09:36:55

Apologies for the derail, but ...

I'd like to see all internet users have to opt-in, with proof of age, if they want to access porn. But there's a small but vocal group here that see that as the End of Days. <massive fucking eyeroll>

Yeah and I want the moon on a stick and a unicorn.

There's a much bigger vocal group (although still small compared to the hard-of-thinking 'gimme a porn-be-gone button it must be possible it must cuz I want one!' group) who are against the opt-in because It. Won't. Work. and it will leave children much more vulnerable to viewing porn than the already existing solutions which actually work quite well.

<chases eyeballs across floor before they roll under fridge>

Back later when I have something on-topic to say.

Thewidewideworld Fri 12-Oct-12 09:52:34

I hate the fact that from the moment my daughters started secondary school they were subjected to the insidious day in day out sexual running commentary of some of their fellow pupils. They are so inured to it now that they shrug their shoulders when some random boy passes them in the corridor and mutters slag or horny bitch at them. I think most parents and most teachers have no idea what many girls are having to listen to on a daily basis and how much it damages their confidence.

Iwillorderthefood Fri 12-Oct-12 10:00:31

I believe that is should as has been said down thread be tackled early. Last year my DD1 in Y1 had a boy continually forcefully kiss her. She did not want it, she was sad for a long time, I did not know and we were all walking to school together. When it came out, school dealt with it, and DD1 and the boy are all friends and fine again. U

Teaching proper boundaries at school and at home whilst very young, along with a great of discussion later on about what teens can see online, and will be exposed to should hopefully help. I am thinking along the lines of talking about how the people in porn look, why this is not natural, and also about the content of these films and why this is not a realistic representation of what actually happens in real life.

This has happened pretty quickly, making all of us need to re- equip ourselves to help teens deal with this and to once again sort out what is acceptable in RL and what is not.

Also whilst girls, it would seem, do get the rougher deal, it is obviously not always this way around. So an approach to ensure that both boys and girls understand what is right and wrong would be best.

hmmmum Fri 12-Oct-12 10:57:21

rockinhippy, there is plenty of evidence to demonstrate the impact of hardcore porn on increasing levels of sexual aggression in viewers. While I agree that most men aren't sex pests, an increasing number of people ARE becoming sex pests and that coincides with the increasing availability/ accessibility of hardcore porn online. It's naive to think that people can fill their minds with this stuff day in, day out, and not let it affect their sexual imagination and the way that plays out in their behaviour. We're not robots! And while 'all men' may view porn at some point in their lives, and I'm sure most of them do, I know that plenty of men avoid the hardcore stuff because watching it does not match up with their morals and they just don't want to go down that path. I think it's incredibly sad that teenage girls are having these experiences, and I think sex education in schools is woefully inadequate to cope with the impact of online porn and its effects. As others have said, there needs to be much better education in schools that talks about more than just the biological facts. This is making me want to home school my one-year-old when she's older!!!

hmmmum Fri 12-Oct-12 10:57:59

ps has anyone read Living Dolls? it's good on this subject.

Alurkatsoftplay Fri 12-Oct-12 13:09:16

Agree with Hmmmum and others about pornography. Schools have to do more, but as a society we do need to fight back against the way porn has become 'mainstream'.
There were children at my son's junior school who had unfettered internet access and who did show everybody porn. If 10year old boys watch porn every day, you can imagine their attitude to girls is going to be damaged and ultimately, could be dangerous.

rockinhippy Fri 12-Oct-12 13:35:40

hmmmum you misunderstand me - I don't believe that for a well adjusted ADULT male, porn is of any threat, but I totally agree that unfettered access to hardcore internet porn etc, for a curious CHILD will most definitely warp their still forming views on sex & whats acceptable and I don't doubt that is the lazy parenting that allows that to happen is the route cause - it would be impossible to police all parents, some are just plain naive - I've seen it with friends who are not internet savvy & yet their then 9 yr old was caught by her school friends Mum surfing the net for porn - our friend was embarrassed, but a few years down the line doesn't get her DDs Dads anger & upset at seeing her openly discussing anal sex on facebook - boys leaving messages asking her for AS & her replying - the DD in question simply rolled her eyes & said "mum FGS do you really think I'm doing that at my age" Mum accepted that as okay & the DF over reactingshock - the mum has no clue about the internet, or IMHO about sexual boundaries herself, so isn't best placed to teach her DD, but completely undermined the DF who did try & teach the DD respect for herself - this isn't some chavvy lazy parent who lets here DCs bring themselves up, quite the opposite & I'm sure thats not an uncommon scenario hence why I firmly believe something needs to be done about the overly easy access to hardcore porn, because I don't doubt it will rot a CHILDS mind.

legoballoon Fri 12-Oct-12 16:38:19

There is a very interesting article by Chloe Combi in the TES magazine (5/10/12) which explores the sexualisation of teenagers and the effects of over exposure to hardcore porn (mostly via new technologies). The statistics are disturbing; the anecdotes horrific. I urge any MNers, especially teachers, to take the time to read it.

ethelb Fri 12-Oct-12 16:56:21

Also the problem isn't just boys. A girl assaulted another girl at my school a couple of years ago. In front of a class room of other pupils. sad

crazygracieuk Fri 12-Oct-12 20:16:40

Another angle that should be taken up is homophobic language in schools (especially primaries).
My oldest picked up a lot if homophobic language in primary school and teachers there wouldn't bat an eyelid at phrases like "You're gay" used as an insult. I don't know if people who are gay know their sexual orientation in primary but I hope that his stupidity in repeating such words has not affected anyone he was at primary with.

He's picked up a more tolerant view of homosexuality in secondary school and although I'll probably never know I wonder if he's picked it up from same age peers or older ones.

SheppySheepdog Fri 12-Oct-12 22:43:07

Yep, it's got to be the pornification of our culture IMO. Internet, mobile phones, porn readily available 24/7, our whole culture seeming to just revolve around sex. Kids don't know how they are supposed to act anymore.

I'm 27 and this wasn't widespread when I was at school, not so very long ago. I doubt parenting has become very much lazier since then. grin

rockinhippy Fri 12-Oct-12 23:06:53

Probably not sheppy, thinking back it was probably a damned site easier for parents, just let them loose to run riot until tea time.grin Imeant lazy from the POV of not overseeing internet access properly + keeping them safe, probably not the best choice of phrase, but I'm sure you get what I mean.

& yes crazy I've had that too + we live in Gay Capital, thankfully school acted swiftly, but I was none too chuffed to have to explain to a then 5 yr old why it was wrong, especially as she has Gay Godparents - I think perhaps it comes in the same bag as racism, rather than sexual bullying though confused

gaby274 Sat 13-Oct-12 00:13:00

More needs to be done to protect all teenagers im a ex midwife and now a peadractic nurse and over my time in hospital ive seen girls affected not just physical but mentaly. My daughter is now 16 when she was 15 her so called boyfriend stiched her up saying he would meet her and had let another man pay for her to have sex with her. Still to this day she is still in fear

koolmumlookin4fun Sun 14-Oct-12 00:13:14

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LadyInTheWater Sun 14-Oct-12 00:36:16

Working in school and elsewhere, I am surprised at us being so focussed so exclusively around the harassment of girls while being almost blind to the subject of harassment of children generally. Sexual harassment of girls is of course something that should always be taken seriously, but we also see manipulative, cruel and sometimes vicious behaviour towards boys from girls, and I think to stand up always for the rights of girls and to dismiss the suffering and, sometimes sexually based harassment of boys as being somehow less important, reflects a trend everywhere in the media. They, including the BBC, seem to place the psychological attention to women above that of men. Are we claiming perpetual victimhood to the point that we are denying men any attention for their emotional needs? Women's media seems so often devoid of a balance in this area.

I am also of the view that vast numbers of girls deliberately compete for boy's attention through sexualised behaviour and/or the use of inappropriately revealing clothing. How can adults discuss these problems without being honest about this? If boys came to school in skimpy clothing and tight shorts with their testacies bulging out we would say that it was unfair to expose the girls to these sights - yet so many parents and schools (including my own) seem to allow girls into the classes who are not only distracting the boys with inappropriate exposure, but the teachers too! Even female teachers say they sometimes don't know where to look! This is a kind of assault, not from boys - but from girls!

Nature requires young men to be fired up (perhaps more than girls), and it is only society's influence and good parental example that helps them moderate their responses (to a degree). Girls attending schools nearly (or deliberately) showing their underwear is provocative. It could be described as a form of bating - it's rather like you going to a high crime area of a city and flashing a Rolex! It doesn't excuse a theft, but it is the height of stupidity to do it as you may very well get a reaction you don't want. It could encourage crime generally.

I am also concerned that the media is also sexualising children to a point that it is no longer acceptable. Women are dressing like little girls and girls are dressing like women. Boys must be confused at all these contradictory messages. 'What am I looking at, a woman or a child?' 'How am I supposed to relate to this person?'

I think it is time that we as mothers, used our consumer power against companies that exploit gender to gain favour with us. Here is an example: Financial companies often depict women as clever and men as stupid, as they want to seduce us women into buying their services. As humans we are being split - and we should be guarded about joining in to this commercially inspired belief system. We may be starting to think the same divisive way about children too! I think that the greatest gift we can give our kids for future equality is to treat them all with the same care and respect - that way they will hopefully grow up respecting one another too!

koolmumlookin4fun Sun 14-Oct-12 00:40:26

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ThingsThatGoBumpInTheNight Sun 14-Oct-12 04:19:02

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GetOrfAKAMrsUsainBolt Sun 14-Oct-12 11:48:26

I cannot believe that in the current climate someone can post such comments that the way young girls dress is somehow the reason why they get such attention and sometime teachers don't know where to look.

What an absolute load of inflammatory nonsense.

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