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How common is sexual harassment in secondary schools?
58

Justajot · 13/03/2021 16:04

I have two DDs in primary school and have wondered for a while whether they are likely to be harassed at secondary school. I went to girls schools so long ago, that I don't think I have any relevant knowledge of behaviour in secondary schools.

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HedgeSparrows · 13/03/2021 20:05

Not common at all.
You might not get a balanced view asking on an Internet forum though - people are more likely to reply if they have had a bad experience or if they have a particular agenda. You would need to research some statistics yourself (or do a random sample Grin).

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GivenchyDahhling · 13/03/2021 20:15

I’m an assistant head at a large mixed comp in outer London. In terms of sexual harassment for us as a pastoral issue, it happens but it’s less common than other types of bullying behaviours. The last couple of major incidents we had both related to distribution of intimate pictures.

There has been recent changes to the Keeping Children Safe in Education to highlight an increase in “upskirting” but it’s not something I’ve seen personally.

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Stokey · 13/03/2021 21:32

@Justajot I also have two DDs in primary. I was having a conversation about whether co-ed or single sex schools would be worse for sexual harassment. Obviously no boys in single sex but might that mean girls from a single sex school are more likely to be targeted outside school? Whereas in a co-ed school, teachers would be more aware and clamp down. Also would a boy be less likely to harass someone that he has to have classes with the next day? Really not sure.
I went to a girls school too many years ago (& had my fair share of harassment at parties etc).

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cheese10 · 14/03/2021 09:12

Sexual harassment exists everywhere in life. Reality is you can't protect your girls from it (I have two) but you have to educate and empower them to know what's right and wrong and to speak up when they are faced with it and call it out.

We need real leadership in all schools to call out sexual deviant behaviour and we need male teachers and voices to stand up here.

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Iamsodone · 14/03/2021 09:22

@Stokey I think you are raising some good points there.
I have always been wondering whether girls schools give a false sense of security and strength which will only lead to shock and disappointment when the girls get through the mixed world.
And equally thinking that if the boys are in school with the girls they are more likely to know how to behave, and a fair amount happens in a controlled environment-as opposed to parties etc
Everyone learns by being together in a supervised environment, they are committed too through studies, with rules, codes etc

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TrebleIt · 14/03/2021 21:08

In my workplace (a university, and before that an IT consultancy) we get mandatory equality and diversity training which makes it very clear what (sexual, racial, etc) harassment is and how we should call it out if we witness it or experience it. My 2 boys have both had similar training at their mixed secondary.school. I don't know if all schools do it yet, but I'm pretty sure that's where things are moving to with the new compulsory SRE curriculum. See info here: assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/781150/Draft_guidance_Relationships_Education__Relationships_and_Sex_Education__RSE__and_Health_Education2.pdf

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TrebleIt · 14/03/2021 21:11

Oh, and I went to an all girl's school too, and remember welcoming any kind of male attention outside of school, not all of it positive.

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SandrasAnnoyingFriend · 14/03/2021 21:15

Personal experience from 25 years ago, it can be a huge issue. And not just harassment, assault too.
Hopefully it's better now but I have boys so don't hear the realities from a female perspective

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pointythings · 14/03/2021 21:56

It's rare, but it happens. It happened to my DD in Yr 8, she's still dealing with the trauma. The boy responsible never faced any consequences.

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Cindersrellie · 14/03/2021 21:57

I'm in my 30s, sexually harassed by my male physics teacher in secondary school.

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Beamur · 14/03/2021 22:02

My DD is Yr9. Lots of inappropriate chatter about sex, masturbation and porn. She's been shown images on a boys phone that she didn't want to see. So, the atmosphere is one she's not happy with around that. This hasn't translated into any physical issues. But I think it's borderline that this is harassment as it's unwanted.

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Stircrazyschoolmum · 15/03/2021 09:38

There is a website circulating a the moment called 'Everyone's invited'. It makes very uncomfortable reading. As a parent of a daughter just about to start secondary and a son who is mid way through I found it quite appalling that some of the incidents described were still happening in modern society.

30 years ago this stuff was rife at my co-ed state comp.. I (naively?) thought things had moved on. I'm not blaming the schools as such, but with all the awareness/PSHE focus I thought there would be more respect and less exploitation. Unfortunately social media and the ability to share words/images so fast and so widely seems to have exacerbated the problem.

As a parent you want to protect your children, and educate them to protect themselves. But simultaneously I don't want to bubble wrap them or over react.. its a tough one.

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Giggorata · 15/03/2021 11:02

The teenage girls I work with tell me that it is constant.

Sexual talk and sex based insults, comments about appearance, upskirting, talk about porn and images on phones, groping, etc.
Judged about appearance, especially by boys.

The atmosphere created by all this is one of being constantly on show, on guard and uneasy.
As it causes harassment, alarm and distress, it amounts to assault, as defined in law.

It's not really big news, is it?
Basic everyday sexism and harassment., which we have been trying to address for decades. 🙁

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Iamsodone · 15/03/2021 13:54

@Giggorata when you say constant do you mean inside schools, at parties, walking down the streets?

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KillingEvenings · 15/03/2021 14:28

Unfortunately it's not just the boys at school that our girls need to be prepared for.
graveneystoriesofsexism (itself inspired by stories of racism at the same school) has inspired similar accounts from other schools in the area.

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AlexaShutUp · 15/03/2021 14:34

I'm in my 30s, sexually harassed by my male physics teacher in secondary school.

I'm older than you, @Cindersrellie, but can't help but wonder if we went to the same school.Sad

My dd is 15, and we have been talking about this recently. She has never experienced any sexual harassment in school. She has encountered sexist comments, which she has challenged vociferously. Her particular group of friends are nice kids, though, and I suspect that some of the other girls in her year are exposed to much more questionable behaviour.

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KittyFilter · 15/03/2021 14:39

I think you'll get a very different perspective depending on who you ask - the girls at mixed schools who are 'in the field' will no doubt say it's more prevalent than the head teacher might think because - as with society in general - how often does 'lower level' harassment get reported? Indeed, harassment of a more significant level often goes undeclared too sadly.

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Changemusthappen · 15/03/2021 14:42

The problem here is that there will only be an idea of the amount of sexual harassment in schools if it is reported.

Does the culture in schools encourage it? Do the boys and girls understand exactly what it is or is a lot of it passed off as 'banter'?

As I said on another thread, many men seem to be unaware that their comments/actions are harassment - perhaps this starts in schools because 'boys being boys' is tolerated? Given the threads about school uniform it would still seem that girls are being blamed for what they wear. Actually I'm willing to bet it's actually pretty bad.

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SirenSays · 15/03/2021 14:45

I think it depends on the school. Mine had a teacher jailed for sex with a student. A piano teacher and supply teachers than liked to rub girls shoulders and thighs. Then a boy who would only stop groping and harassing me when I threatened to have my bf find him after school.

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Whatafool123 · 15/03/2021 14:50

I read a fair bit about this since DD was born, and was especially concerned to read that it doesn't just happen at secondary level, primary children suffer too.

It was also particularly worrying that often nothing is done, and the girls may be left to continue in class with the boys who harassed them (or worse), borne out by a PP above. Their only alternative can be to move schools which is essentially double punishment for the girl involved.

While I realise that sexual harassment in any school is hopefully rare, that girls' schools have their own issues, and unpleasant things can happen anywhere, it was one of the several factors in our decision to send DD to an all-girls' secondary in September.

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Oodilallygolly · 15/03/2021 14:54

At school I experienced numerous encounters with several boys who each tried touching me up my skirt under the tables during lessons. It was just very normalised
If it happened to me that many times I’m sure it happened to many other girls too

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AlexaShutUp · 15/03/2021 14:59

The one thing my dd did mention feeling uncomfortable about was her head of year's unhealthy obsession with the length of girls' skirts. Ostensibly in relation to policing school uniform requirements, but dd said that his constant comments on skirt length (not hers) made her feel really uneasy.

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blue25 · 15/03/2021 15:03

It is common in my experience unfortunately. I work in schools and the language and attitude from some boys towards girls is horrid. Comments about weight, looks & slut shaming are commonplace.

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PresentingPercy · 15/03/2021 15:08

If you look at many secondary school posts, there are lots of people who want co Ed schools because they mirror “real life”. They certainly do. But not in a way they want to think about!

My DDs went to girls boarding schools. At least any unwanted behaviour was confined to outside school. They know what behaviour they want and only accept its on that basis being around them. They didn’t want boys at school but chose their own trusted male friends.

Obviously most boys are pleasant and decent but at least at a girls’ school you get to avoid these boys in lessons making comments and making the girls feel uncomfortable with nasty nicknames etc. These types of boys don’t care what anyone thinks of them. I’ve heard plenty of tales from DDs friends at co Ed schools to know its rife. They tend to be small groups of like minded boys. I blame their parents. Not the schools. But schools need to act of girls report this type of behaviour.

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