The group of MPs has warned many teachers dismiss sexual harassment as “banter”, while parents struggle when it comes to supporting affected children.
In a disturbing report, the Women and Equalities Committee claimed many pupils – some of primary school age – were being exposed to hardcore pornography.
They cited research by the End Violence Against Women campaign which suggested 71% of all 16 to 18-year-olds had heard sexual name calling such as “slut” or “slag” used towards girls at schools and colleges.
The study also found 29% of girls in that age group had told of being groped, and MPs heard the “slapping of bums and flicking of skirts” was commonplace.
MPs have concluded that Ofsted and the Government have no coherent plan for ensuring schools tackle the causes and consequences of sexual harassment and sexual violence.
The committee’s chairwoman, Maria Miller, said the failure to deal with the problem in schools could be fuelling the “lad culture” which has been identified as an issue in colleges and universities.
She added: “It is difficult to explain why any school would allow girls to be subjected to sexual harassment and violent behaviour that has been outlawed in the adult workplace. The evidence shows it is undermining the confidence of young women.
“The Government must take a lead and make it clear that sexual harassment in schools is completely unacceptable and support schools, teachers, parents and young people to tackle this widespread problem.”
Mrs Miller said although there were some excellent examples of prevention seen in some schools, many others had failed to acknowledge it was a problem.
A Girlguiding survey in 2014 also found that 59% of young women aged 13 to 21 had faced some form of sexual harassment in school or college in the preceding year.
The charity’s advocate panel, made up of a group of 14 to 25-year-olds, said: “It’s humiliating and frightening and affects what we wear, where we go, our body image and our confidence to speak out in class.
“Yet, it’s often dismissed as banter or a compliment and we are told we are overreacting or being oversensitive.
“It needs to stop. Schools should be safe and empowering places and we should feel able to learn without fear.”
News Source SkyNews