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Poll shows sexual harassment 'normal' in schools

Almost 1 in 3 girls experience unwanted sexual touching in our schools: new YouGov poll

Zero Tolerance is calling on the Scottish Government to urgently address violence against young women in Scottish schools in response to a poll published today of 16-18-year-olds finding alarming levels of sexual bullying, sexual harassment and unwanted sexual touching in schools.

The poll of 788 16-18-year-olds (download the pdf) around the UK conducted by YouGov on behalf of the End Violence Against Women (EVAW) Coalition has found that almost a third (29%) of 16-18-year-old girls say they have been subjected to unwanted sexual touching at school. Nearly three-quarters (71%) of all 16-18-year-olds (boys and girls) say they hear sexual name-calling with terms such as 'slut' or 'slag' used towards girls at schools on a daily basis or a few times a week.

Louise Riddell, Education Development Worker at Zero Tolerance, said:

"Not only is sexual harassment against girls at school routine, everyday and unquestioned, these results show that sexual assault is in fact normal in school.

These results highlight that pupils rarely hear from their teachers that these behaviours are unacceptable. Unfortunately, it is clear that teachers are not being given the training and ongoing support they need to tackle sexual harassment in their classrooms, corridors and playgrounds.

Violence against women and girls in Scotland's schools and communities will never go away unless the attitudes that excuse and normalise such behaviours are challenged before they are formed. Zero Tolerance is calling for prevention through education.

This research highlights the need for ongoing training and support for all school staff, and for a 'whole-school approach', where the prevention of violence against women and girls is embedded into all aspects of school ethos, policy and practice, especially in the curriculum.

Respect, our education resource, aims to do this and Zero Tolerance is currently working with young people and education professionals to redevelop the resource with sexual bullying being at the heart of it. The new Respect education resource will be available in early 2011."

Added: November 24, 2010
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