It is a rather shocking report that the English academic inspection services (Ofsted) have just given. Following a government request last April, inspectors visited 32 UK public and private schools and colleges and spoke to 900 students. The objective was to examine the situation after a deluge of testimonies from adolescents shared on the website “Everyone’s Invited” (“Everyone is invited”), in particular girls, denouncing sexist remarks and violence of a nature. sexuality highlighting a “rape culture” in schools.
The conclusions are cold in the back. Nine in ten girls say they are sexistically insulted and receive sexual images or videos. Moreover, Ofsted found that children and adolescents “often do not see the point in challenging or reporting these harmful behaviors, as they are considered a normal experience”.
The magnitude of the problem underestimated
“Many teachers and heads of establishments underestimate the extent of these problems”, also notes Ofsted. During their interviews, Ofsted inspectors learned, for example, that boys shared “nude” images with each other as if they were “collecting” them on platforms such as WhatsApp and Snapchat, and that some girls were subjected to “unwanted touching in the hallways of the school”.
“This report shocked me,” said Amanda Spielman, Chief Inspector of Ofsted in a statement. “Sexual harassment should never be taken for granted and it shouldn’t have a place in our schools and colleges,” she added.
Train and sanction
Educational staff should be better trained and schools should improve reporting mechanisms as well as sanction offenders, suggests Ofsted. The organization also called on the government to address harassment and abuse online, such as the ease with which children can access pornography.
In a tweet, Education Minister Gavin Williamson said the report’s findings were “very worrying.” He said the government was providing “extra support for staff” to protect schoolchildren, “increased recommendations” for health and sex education, and funding a hotline to help children.