Best Practice

Tackling sexual harassment and misogyny in schools

Violent and misogynistic views and actions experienced by so many women in our society can often have their roots in unchallenged attitudes and behaviours in childhood. This puts schools on the front-line. Peter Radford challenges us to consider how we respond...

I frequently run workshops in schools on sex and relationships. As part of these workshops, I spend considerable time addressing respect, self-respect, consent, and sexual harassment. Along the way I ask students to discuss five questions in groups:

Without exception the common answers are:

Note number 3. Almost unanimously students report that sexual harassment mostly goes unreported in their school. This reflects the findings of last year’s Ofsted Review (2021).

I ask students why and these answers too are always the same:

This is serious. We have a problem. In the UK, as globally, one in three women will experience violence at some point in their lives (WHO, 2021). The problem is systemic and institutional. By our passivity and inaction, we are perpetuating a culture that continues to treat women and girls as objects, as property and second-class citizens. And we can’t legitimately claim that we did not realise it was happening; it’s our job to realise, to notice and to act.

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