Commenting on the report published today into the scale and impact of sexual harassment and sexual violence in schools by the Women and Equalities Committee, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union in the UK, said:

“The findings of this report are shocking but unfortunately not surprising.

“The NASUWT submitted evidence to the inquiry based on our own research which showed that sexual harassment, including threats of sexual violence and degrading comments, is an all too frequent reality for pupils and teachers in our schools.

“Mobile phones and social media have become tools by which this abuse is often perpetrated, yet a survey of over 1,300 teachers by the NASUWT earlier this year found that only just over a quarter of schools had an internet or social media policy which makes specific reference to protecting staff and pupils from this kind of abuse.

“It found too, that an effective response to such abuse when it is reported to employers, the police or the social media remains unacceptably low.

“It should be remembered that employers are actually failing in their duties under equalities law if they fail to protect women and girls from this abuse.

“There is no place in our schools for sexual harassment or violence towards either pupils or staff, yet, as the Committee states, no serious action is being taken by the Government to provide schools with the tools to deal with this issue.

“A failure to get to grips with this issue now and educate young people about healthy and respectful relationships is likely to have long lasting consequences in the fight for gender equality and an end to gender-based violence.

“Ministers must take the lead and help all schools develop a culture where the dignity, safety and self-esteem of our young people is protected from this degrading abuse and in which perpetrators understand why such behaviour is completely unacceptable.”

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