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“It happens to like, everybody, all of the time.”

 AVA, Prioritising Prevention: Working with schools to prevent violence against women and girls, (2013)

Gender-based violence (GBV) is present in every young person’s life and its impact and influence is widely felt.

“Almost every girl I know has witnessed or experienced some form of sexual harassment.”

EVAW, “Schools: It’s About Time Things Changed”.

In 2021, Ofsted’s own review into sexual abuse in schools and colleges expressed concern that for some children, incidents of sexual harassment are ‘so commonplace that they see no point in reporting them.’ They also reported that:

  • 90% of girls said being sent explicit pictures or videos of things they did not want to see happens a lot or sometimes to them or their peers. 
  • 92% of girls said sexist name-calling happens a lot or sometimes to them or their peers.

The frequency of these harmful sexual behaviours (HSB) caused Ofsted to conclude that ‘some children and young people consider them normal’. In their 2017 report, ‘It’s Just Everywhere’, the National Education Union (NEU) reported that 1 in 4 young women at mixed schools have been subjected to unwanted physical touching of a sexual nature while at school. As one young person put it:

“Guys think it’s okay to touch girls whenever they like.”

One of the recommendations from the report was the adoption of a Whole School Approach to tackling sexism.