Peer on peer sexual harassment among learners – Senedd Report
On 13th July, The Children, Young People and Education Committee of the Senedd published their report on peer-on-peer sexual harassment, following a short inquiry, with feedback and statistics collected from young people, charities, educational groups and government officials.
Our statement about this report:
We welcome this powerful report on peer-on-peer sexual harassment and sexual abuse in schools and colleges. The research findings are stark but very clear, and the 24 recommendations are suitably strong and wide-reaching.
We know that sexual harassment in schools and colleges is underreported, but unfortunately it is highly prevalent (61% of female pupils and 29% of male pupils have personal experience of peer on peer sexual harassment). This report highlights that some learners are at higher risk, such as girls, LGBTQ+ learners, and those with learning difficulties. There are many shocking but unsurprising statistics included throughout this report.
We have heard from the children and young people accessing our services at New Pathways, that schools are often not equipped to deal with incidences of sexual harassment or sexual abuse, and that a lack of action taken can negatively impact the safety, mental health, self-esteem and wellbeing of the children and young people affected. We’ve heard multiple cases of children remaining in the same classes as the child causing the harassment, with limited interventions in place. Because learners affected by sexual harassment and assault can not get the support they need from their school or college pastoral system, this can leave them unsure or unable to manage the emotional impact of the harassment. We welcome the recommendation to review and improve the support offered, as well as providing education to up-skill school and college staff on how to respond to sexual harassment, and we are keen to work alongside Welsh Government in this area.
We also welcome the recommendation from young people to improve and implement education in schools about sexual harassment and what behaviours are unacceptable. If we do not challenge behaviours at a young age, we can never hope to eradicate them. We hear this day-to-day from the young people we support. In addition, we also support the call for a clear communications strategy and national campaign on the issue, including a clear definition of what is unacceptable sexual behaviour. Children and young people do not live and learn in silo, and this is a societal problem that needs to be tackled by educators and decision-makers, and communities and caregivers, alike.
Sexual harassment in schools and colleges is currently a severe cause for concern. We urge the government to review and implement the recommendations in this report.
You can find the report, accompanying video, and background to the inquiry here: https://business.senedd.wales/mgIssueHistoryHome.aspx?IId=38554
If you have been affected by sexual violence of any kind, and you need support, or you would like to find out more information about our services, please contact us by phone (01685 379310), email: email@example.com, or contact us via our website or social media.