Survey finds shocking number of girls are sexually harassed at school

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Girlguiding research reveals girls are growing up with sexual harassment as a normal part of their everyday lives

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2nd December 2014 by Paul Cardwell 0 Comments

Three out of every five girls and young women have been sexually harassed at school or college, a shocking new Girlguiding survey has found.

The charity is calling for a zero-tolerance approach to be taken after it was also revealed girls as young as 11 have been told to ignore it by teachers dismissing it as a “bit of banter”.

The Girls’ Attitudes 2014 survey found 59% of girls aged 13-21 have faced some form of harassment including unwanted sexual attention or unwanted touching.

More than half of school girls aged 11-16 who had informed a teacher or other member of staff about incidents were told to forget about it.

Denise King, chief executive of Girlguiding Scotland, which has more than 60,000 members from Rainbows age five to Seniors up to age 25, said no girl should have to tolerate gender-based violence or any form of sexual harassment.

“This shocking research shows we must act to stop sexual harassment being normalised by our society,” she said.

Every day, many girls’ lives are made a misery by sexist comments, sexual harassment and abuse at school

“We want to ensure all girls live in a safe, fair and equal society that lets them reach their full potential.

“We’re calling on all politicians to take a stand and sign up to Girlguiding’s Girls Matter campaign.”

The campaign is demanding politicians sign up to do all they can to stop sexual bullying in schools and colleges.

Included are eight policy asks including schools taking a zero-tolerance approach to sexual bullying and harassment.

The Girls’ Attitudes Survey 2014 was carried out on behalf of Girlguiding by ChildWise. It spoke to 1,405 girls and young women aged between seven and 21 inside and outside guiding across the UK.

Girlguiding’s youth panel, Advocate, led the development of the survey and analysed the results.

Amy Callaghan, 16, a Girlguiding Scotland member from Glasgow who was part of the panel, said: “Every day, many girls’ lives are made a misery by sexist comments, sexual harassment and abuse at school.

“What’s worse is that it’s not being treated as a serious issue.

“We need politicians to take action and sign up to our Girls Matter pledges.

“We need them to send a message that this kind of behaviour towards girls and young women will not be tolerated.”

Girls as young as seven also reported being subjected to jokes of a sexual nature from boys and the charity is warning too often this sort of behaviour, if left unchallenged, intensifies into sexual harassment during teenage years.

The survey’s findings backed this claim with girls reporting worrying levels of control and bullying among their peers relationships.

Over a third aged 11 to 21 said they knew girls and young women their age who had experienced control or bullying from a partner. A quarter knew someone who has experienced violence from a partner.

Eight policy asks from Girlguiding Scotland

Survey finds shocking number of girls are sexually harassed at school

1. Listen to girls and young women, take them seriously and make sure their voices count

2. Demand that schools take a zero-tolerance approach to sexual bullying and harassment

3. Call on all schools to teach body confidence and gender equality

4. Make girls’ rights a priority in the UK’s approach to international development

5. Stop children’s exposure to harmful sexualised content in mainstream media

6. Empower girls and young women to speak out and be heard on the impact of media sexism and stereotyping

7. Modernise sex and relationships education so all young people can make informed decisions and stay safe

8. Guarantee that women will be equally represented in parliament