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Estyn supports young people to ‘call out’ sexual harassment by their peers

Estyn will today publish a report for young people to support them to feel more confident about recognising and challenging sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour by other pupils. This youth-friendly report will support schools to recognise and challenge peer-on-peer sexual harassment and will help staff and pupils reinforce messages about what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour.
It follows a report published by Estyn in December 2021 which highlighted experiences of sexual harassment amongst secondary school pupils in Wales. The report, called We don’t tell our teachers – Experiences of peer-on-peer sexual harassment among secondary school pupils in Wales, contains insight from 1,300 secondary school pupils in Wales aged between 12 and 18. Pupils say that peer-on-peer harassment happens mostly online and outside school, but they feel it is important that teachers and school staff understand how common it is.
Pupils told inspectors that catcalling, being asked for nude pictures, people making hurtful or homophobic comments and body-shaming have become a major problem and said that they want teachers to take proactive and preventative steps to deal with sexual harassment amongst young people.
The new youth-friendly report is designed to be accessible to young people and focuses on the key messages Estyn’s research published in December 2021, along with useful signposting for pupils to further information and support. It also provides a range of discussion points which can be used by schools and school councils to explore the issues. In December’s report, pupils told inspectors that only 2 out of 10 pupils who have experienced sexual harassment tell a teacher and that it happens so often that it’s viewed by many as ‘normal’ behaviour. Estyn wants to support schools to challenge this with open discussion.
Owen Evans, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector at Estyn says, “We are pleased that our latest report will support school communities across Wales to better understand and challenge peer-on-peer sexual harassment and know where to go for advice.
Learners are at the heart of our work and this report includes insights from providers across the whole of Wales which will offer valuable ideas to improve the approach of schools. We found that the best schools make sure that respect is a top priority.
Young people shouldn’t have to deal with sexual harassment in any form and we’re concerned by the findings of our recent report, which show that this issue is becoming a major problem for young people and schools and is happening more often than we think. This behaviour must be challenged across society.
We all need to work together to change attitudes and behaviour around peer-on-peer sexual harassment and we would encourage schools to develop a ‘whole school’ approach to educating and challenging on this issue.”