Police and young people confirm sexual assault and harassment between young people is widespread.
Police reports of thousands of sexual assaults between children, everyday experiences of harassment in schools and the increasingly ubiquitous sharing of unsolicited nudes referenced in the Panorama documentary (6/09/21) build on our existing concerns about the safety and wellbeing of young people, especially girls. Brook responded here to similar reports on Everyone’s Invited and the recent OFSTED report.
Brook Head of Policy and Public Affairs, Lisa Hallgarten says:
‘There is not one simple solution to this epidemic of sexual bullying, harassment and assault. Wholesale culture change is needed to make this now ‘normalised’ behaviour socially unacceptable. This change will involve commitment from schools, tech companies and the media. We welcome the recently updated government guidance on dealing with sexual harassment and violence in schools. Schools also have the potential to change attitudes and behaviour through Relationships and Sex Education, but they need significant investment and government support to do so.’
Brook calls on the Government to:
· Remove the opt outs and caveats for parents and schools that deprive too many children of their right to information that will keep them safe
· Invest sufficiently in universal, comprehensive, high quality, knowledge and skills based relationships and sex education taught by experts and properly trained teachers
· Invest in training and support for schools dealing with incidents and supporting survivors
· Work with expert organisations, young people and tech companies to find solutions to issues caused or exacerbated by access to sexual content online
· Encourage media outlets to be part of the solution by doing more to challenge the gender stereotypes, and misogyny that underpin sexual violence. Outlets that disparage a focus on discrimination as ‘wokeism’, or that try to generate moral panic about what Relationships and Sex Education is or does are part of the problem.