Sexual harassment 'normalised' for children in school, says Ofsted report

10 June 2021, 08:51

Around nine in 10 girls reported incidents of sexist name-calling.
Around nine in 10 girls reported incidents of sexist name-calling. Picture: PA

By Emma Soteriou

Sexual harassment has become "normalised" for children in schools and colleges, an Ofsted report has shown.

Almost 90 per cent of girls and 50 per cent of boys said either they or their friends had been sent unsolicited explicit images or videos.

Inspectors were also told that boys shared "nudes" like a "collection game" on platforms such as WhatsApp and Snapchat.

More than nine in 10 girls and almost three quarters of boys had experienced sexist name-calling as well, or knew their peers had, a lot or sometimes.

That said, the report showed that children do not believe it is worth reporting cases of sexual harassment as it is so common.

Ofsted inspectors visited 32 state and private schools and colleges, speaking to over 900 students about their experience.

This came after the deluge of anonymous reports made to website Everyone's Invited.

Following the report, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: "Sexual abuse in any form is completely unacceptable.

"No young person should feel that this is a normal part of their daily lives - schools are places of safety, not harmful behaviours that are tolerated instead of tackled.

"Ofsted's review has rightly highlighted where we can take specific and urgent action to address sexual abuse in education.

Read more: Starmer tells PM to back Labour on education or risk 'holding UK back for a generation'

Read more: Education adviser resigns over Govt's £1.4bn schools catch-up plan

Pupil tells David Lammy about sexual harassment experiences at school

"But there are wider societal influences at play, meaning schools and colleges cannot be expected to tackle these issues alone.

"By reflecting young people's real experiences in what they are taught, I hope more people feel able to speak up where something isn't right and call out activity that might previously have been written off as 'normal'."

Chief inspector of schools, Amanda Spielman, said she was "shocked" by the findings of the review.

She said: "It's alarming that many children and young people, particularly girls, feel they have to accept sexual harassment as part of growing up.

"Whether it's happening at school or in their social life, they simply don't feel it's worth reporting.

"This is a cultural issue; it's about attitudes and behaviours becoming normalised, and schools and colleges can't solve that by themselves."