If sexual harassment in politics and showbiz has raised eyebrows of late, the level of it in schools should set alarm bells ringing. Reports of sexual offences by children towards other children are on the increase. There’s also a broad gamut of harassment in schools, as in all workplaces. Even in the less serious cases – boys pinging girls’ bras, for example – for those targeted it can be wearing and humiliating. Laura McInerney, editor of Schools Week writes in The Guardian.
So what can be done? The government, continuing in its weird belief that shuffling sentences around on a page will somehow solve everything, says it will “issue more guidance” to schools. It’s almost certainly a waste of time.
In Scotland, a controversial new policy could provide a better solution. There, plans are afoot to give every child a “named person” who is responsible for getting any wider support a child or family needs. For pre-school children it is likely to be a health visitor; for school-age children, a senior teacher.
But the basic idea of every child having a named individual to whom they can turn with concerns about their safety is far from ridiculous. If carefully thought through, it could help with sexual harassment and be extended so that each teacher has a “named person” too.
A problem for anyone experiencing harassment is the fear that speaking up will make life worse. This is particularly the case where everyone in charge seems to be in on things together. Imagine you are a 14-year-old girl and boys keep making fun of your chest. How easy is it for you to tell your form tutor if he seems to be “one of the lads” and makes jokes with the boys in your class?
Now, imagine each scenario again. This time the victim has the name of an independent person responsible for listening and acting dispassionately. Someone they can contact via email or WhatsApp. A professional whom they can chat to in a low-stakes way before figuring out the next steps. Someone outside of the power web.
Read the full article Sexual harassment: It’s not only rife in showbiz and Westminster – it’s in UK schools
What do you think of the ‘named person’ approach? Please tell us you thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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