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The End Violence Against Women coalition's 'Schools Safe 4 Girls' campaign

(22 Posts)
RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 08-Oct-12 09:10:20

Our Campaign of the Week this week is the End Violence Against Women coalition's 'Schools Safe 4 Girls' campaign, which calls for schools, parents, students and the government to work together to ensure that girls are safe and that work is done to tackle harmful attitudes in schools.

One in three 16-18 year old girls say they have been 'groped' or experienced other unwanted sexual touching at school; one in three teenage girls has experienced sexual violence from their boyfriend; over 20,000 girls under 15 are at risk of female genital mutilation in England and Wales each year; and last year, 1468 forced marriage cases were dealt with by the Forced Marriage Unit.

EVAW (one of our partners on the We Believe You campaign) is asking parents, students and women's groups to write to their school to ask them what they are doing to address these issues. They also want the government to make it compulsory for schools to address these issues by making Sex and Relationships Education statutory. (You can see more information about the status of SRE in schools here.

Of course it is vital that all children are safe growing up, but EVAW's view is that a lot of these issues (particularly sexual bullying, FGM and forced marriage) are overwhelmingly experienced by women and girls. That's why they think it's vital that there is targeted action to address these problems, alongside work to ensure boys are safe from abuse as well.

If you'd like to take action on these issues, have a look at the Schools Safe 4 Girls campaign page for downloadable resources and template letters.

As ever, it would be good to hear what you think about the issues raised by this campaign. After Rochdale, what role do schools have in keeping girls safe? Does your child's school promote a respect for girls? 'Sexting', groping in school corridors, abuse by boyfriends - should schools tackle these issues, and if so, how?


LineRunner Mon 08-Oct-12 10:04:24

I am so glad that MN is doing this. If you look at the current thread about women experiencing sexual assault, the scale of it and young age at which it starts for many girls, is staggering. It's clear that the social context in which it happens is significant.

I would like to see an emphasis on men being asked to teach their sons to respect women and girls. I wouldn't want yet another campaign which basically ends up just focusing on advising girls how to modify their behaviour.

Also sex and relationships education needs to seriously re-assess the significance it attaches to 'sex within a loving relationship' (as discussed elsewhere on MN). The message is getting skewed so that many girls and woman stay in awful relations precisely because their abuser is telling them that he loves them. Love is not love if there is no respect, is a better lesson, just as sex can be great with a nice person outside of some kind of romantic Gove-ian ideal.

LittleAbruzzenBear Mon 08-Oct-12 10:41:25

I agree with LineRunner's comments. I think that martial arts classes for girls at school would be good too. DH and I will certainly be doing our part when our two DSs are old enough by teaching them to respect women. I do also think girls not wearing skirts to school would help. I hate the fact that it leans towards that whole "they're asking for it by wearing a skirt" and would point out it is not the victim's choice of attire to blame, however, it would lessen the letching at young girls. Disgusting old men always talk about young girls legs and short skirts. Boys must definitely be focussed on, the onus should be on them as potential aggressors.

NormaStanleyFletcher Mon 08-Oct-12 11:27:55

Oh I like this. Thank you MNHQ.

I have a DD who is 6, and I worry about her experiencing what seems to be a very different environment to my school days.

I would like there to be mandatory reporting of sexualised bullying/behaviour, as there is for bullying with a racist element.

And absolutely agree that this has to be NOT about girls' behaviour, please no blaming the victim of this for clothing, attitude or anything else.

LineRunner Mon 08-Oct-12 13:42:35

This is the thread on whether or not most females have been the victim of sexual abuse of one kind or another in their lives. Here

It's quite chilling how 'normalised' it seems to be in our culture.

YoullLaughAboutItOneDay Mon 08-Oct-12 15:50:19

My daughters are too young to be at school or pre-school, but I agree that this is a very valuable campaign.

Darkesteyeswithflecksofgold Mon 08-Oct-12 16:09:35

Im not a parent myself but think that this is a valuable excellent campaign.
Little Abruzzen Bear. i dont think telling girls that they cant wear skirts is the answer. Its ordering the female to modify what she wears which then sends out the message that "its your fault for wearing that" .which defeats the whole object of campaigns like this surely.
Its telling the female what to do again and saying that the female has to be responsible for someone elses actions because "you know those boys/men cant control themselves"

LittleAbruzzenBear Mon 08-Oct-12 16:22:47

Darkesteyes, I agree and I have said that in my post, but my point is, I remember receiving unwanted attention when I was at high school because I had to wear skirt and I hated it. My friend's daughter is at the high school near us and nearly all the girls wear trousers. Her daughter and friends said they feel safer in them. It is sad that this is the case though. Men shouldn't leer at young girls in skirts to begin with, but they do. It is almost like saying well if we all wear burkas then we would be safe.

ScrambledSmegsEvilTwin Mon 08-Oct-12 16:26:52

I never realised the statistics were so awful. I have a toddler DD and another on the way, so very interested in making sure they grow up in a world that doesn't treat girls and women as objects to be abused.

Thank you for this campaign.

SonOfAradia Mon 08-Oct-12 16:49:33

I would like to see an emphasis on men being asked to teach their sons to respect women and girls.

I completely and utterly agree with this. I have a 5 yr old DS and I've most certainly been teaching him exactly that, starting at home of course.

PosieParker Mon 08-Oct-12 16:53:58

I'll pass this along to some teacher friends of mine.

I've shared the link.. you have a lot of support in this campaign

MmeLindor Mon 08-Oct-12 17:40:07

Great campaign.

I would like schools to teach children about the red flags of abusive behaviour.

When you read the stories of women who have been abused, they almost all say that after they have escaped the relationship they have, in retrospect recognised the 'red flags'.

These indicators of an abusive personality should be taught to boys and girls, so that they can recognise controlling behaviour and give the person a wide berth.

(this is from a blog post I wrote for pre-teens/teens)


a friend who behaves like this:

Always wants to spend time with you and doesn’t like when you play with others

Gets angry if you don’t do what she wants to do

Contacts you all the time, even when you have gone home.

Wants to be like you, or wants you to be like her. Copies your clothes and your hairstyle

Doesn’t take notice of your feelings, it is all about what she wants

Makes a fool of you in front of others, to make them laugh

If you object to this, tells you that you have no sense of humour, and that it was just a joke

Is moody and unpredictable, and blames you for anything that goes wrong

When you do something she doesn’t like, she ‘punishes’ you by ignoring you, or playing with someone else

Pinches, kicks or hits you


When you look at the 'red flags' of abusive behaviour for adult relationships, they have similarities.

LineRunner Tue 09-Oct-12 11:52:50

I like that very much, MmeLindor. Makes a lot of sense.

SoleSource Tue 09-Oct-12 16:11:08

I like your post too Mme.

Psychology, sex education and boundaries in schools.NOW

LittleAbruzzenBear Tue 09-Oct-12 18:27:42

Your post is very interesting Mme. One of DS's friends is like this already and only 4YO!

cosysocks Thu 11-Oct-12 12:10:45

I know do work around this issues but not sure how much they manage to get the message out there. I volunteer for Family Lives and as far as I'm aware they are a tiny part of the organisation.
I would hate to think of my DN having to be subjected to anykind of sexual abuse at school, however I can very easily see how with todays technology how often it must happen on that level.

edam Thu 11-Oct-12 13:56:31

very glad you are raising this issue - it seems to me that schools take racism very seriously (and have to report every incident) but often ignore or downplay misognyny. Of course not every school is perfect on racism, but sexism often doesn't even register on their agenda.

edam Thu 11-Oct-12 14:00:27

Btw, I'm a school governor but primary - quick glance at the link suggests the resources are aimed at secondaries. Is there anything for primaries? I think we should start young in terms of teaching children about respect and bodily autonomy

StrangeGlue Thu 11-Oct-12 20:02:45

This definitely needs to be aimed at men as others have said. I'm so sick of it always being about what women wear/say/where they go when the onus is always on the abuser not to abuse - you don't make yourself a victim you are made a victim by an abuser and so victims need to stop being made to feel responsible.

FeverAndTheFret Thu 11-Oct-12 21:26:07

Great and necessary campaign, and yes, schools should definitely be addressing this issue.

Young people need to explore what makes a relationship healthy - or unhealthy; they need to hear about what kind of behaviour is acceptable or unacceptable.

The point needs to be made that behaviour that you wouldn't do to a stranger is generally not acceptable to a person you know. Clumsy sentence - what I'm trying to say is that YP need to hear that just as it's wrong to slap a girl who they don't know, it's just as wrong to hit their girlfriend, no exceptions.

YP of both sexes need to hear the explicit message that physical violence is assault - no matter if you know the person/'love them', or if they're a stranger. It's criminal behaviour.

They need to hear the explicit message that unwanted sexual contact is sexual assault - again, no matter what the relationship between the two parties is. Again, criminal behaviour.

Some of the YP will be living in homes where they witness domestic violence. It's really important then that lessons which address these issues need to give out sources of help & support that the YP can then access anonymously.

And lessons which explore behaviour and "healthy relationships" definitely need to be happening in primary school. (Obviously age -appropriately). The guidance for the PSHE curriculum for KS1 children suggests that schools explore with children
" what they like and dislike"
"what is fair and unfair and what is right and what is wrong"
"(how) to recognize and deal with their emotions in a healthy way".

There is clearly scope to explore these issues with even very young children- as long as it's done sensitively and with teachers who understand the issues. And again issues of help & support need to be considered because sadly a significant number of these children will be regularly witnessing DV.

Italiangreyhound Thu 21-Feb-13 00:11:02

Good idea for a campaign.

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