Street harassment school
© Alexlinch

As children head back to schools this week, a group of schoolgirls are demanding that street harassment is made a mandatory topic taught in lessons

The majority of schoolchildren in the UK are not taught about street harassment, despite a report from Plan UK revealing that 2 in 3 girls will be subject to this violence.

A group of schoolgirls and students are on a mission to change this.

Our Streets Now is the grassroots campaign that aims to end street harassment. They are launching ‘Our Schools Now’, a campaign to include public sexual street harassment as part of PSHE/RSE lessons in schools. The campaign is launching a wide range of resources for teachers and students to use, and releasing the findings of its ‘Our Schools Now’ report.

Based on an in-depth survey of over 150 students and recent school leavers, the report found that:

  • Only 14% of students had been taught about street harassment;
  • 47% of students said they would not report an incident of public sexual harassment to their school either because they did not know or feared not being taken seriously by staff; and
  • 72% of pupils who did report public sexual harassment described receiving a negative response from their school, with the majority of participants stating that no real action was taken.

Two sisters, Maya and Gemma Tutton have been campaigning to make public sexual harassment illegal in the UK. Gemma Tutton said: “We need to make sure that the next generation of children in the UK understand the prevalence and impact of public sexual harassment.

“The rise of online and offline abuse as a consequence of the pandemic must not be allowed to further proliferate with the reduction of adequate sex education in response to schools being under pressure because of COVID-19.”

Gemma added: “I remember one incident of harassment when I challenged the perpetrators, telling them, I’m 13 years old. One man answered, age doesn’t matter to me. This culture has to change because until it does, girls will continue to feel confused, isolated and even blame themselves. I certainly did”.

A 14 year old student from Essex, Anya, commented: “Since I was 11 years old I have avoided walking home alone from the bus stop, especially when coming home from school in my uniform. Along with the majority of my friends, I have experienced public sexual harassment on multiple occasions. Yet we’ve never been taught about it.”

19 year old recent school leaver from Cheshire, Jess, added: “Travelling to and from school became a trip that was uncomfortable. I remember walking back from school in year 9, and these guys drove past and honked their horn and shouted at me. At the time I was so upset, uncomfortable and embarrassed and immediately blamed myself. Looking back, I know how beneficial it would have been to have been taught about public sexual harassment.”

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