A report published today (10 June 2021) by the education regulator Ofsted, concludes that sexual harassment has become 'normalised' among school-age children.
The review found that students often do not see the point of reporting abuse and many teachers underestimate the scale of these problems.
Ofsted visited 30 state and independent schools and two further education colleges and spoke to more than 900 young people about sexual harassment.
It found around nine in 10 of the girls spoken to by inspectors said sexist name-calling and being sent unwanted explicit pictures or videos happened 'a lot' or 'sometimes'. Some had experienced unwanted touching at school.
Many girls were frustrated about the lack of coverage of acceptable and unacceptable sexual behaviour on the school curriculum.
Katie Russell, spokesperson for Rape Crisis England & Wales said:
"These findings are stark and will be shocking to many, but they are not new.
The Women and Equalities Select Committee revealed the extent of sexist bullying and sexual harassment in schools, particularly against girls and young women, in 2018.
We cannot hope to successfully tackle this crisis without acknowledging its disproportionate impact on girls and young women, and its roots in sexist myths, stereotypes and attitudes.
After years of campaigning, we now have a compulsory Relationships, Sex and Health Education curriculum for all schools that covers the vital topics of respect, consent and healthy relationships, which are essential to reducing and preventing sexual harassment, abuse and violence.
If teachers and schools understandably lack confidence in this area of work, we urge them to contact the experts in their areas, local specialist organisations like Rape Crisis Centres, which have decades of experience not only in supporting survivors of sexual violence and abuse, but in education and awareness-raising on these issues too.
With proper remuneration and in equitable partnership, these community-based, trauma-informed charities have a lot to offer.
We'd also want anyone who's experienced sexual harassment, assault or abuse of any kind, in school or anywhere, to know they can explore the Rape Crisis website for useful information and confidential, specialist support. No-one needs to be dealing with the impacts of these traumatic experiences on their own."