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MPs demand crackdown on sexual violence in schools

Widespread sexual harassment and violence in schools must be tackled, say MPs as a report published today by the Women and Equalities Committee exposes the 'shocking' scale of incidents that are not being tackled effectively in British schools.

The report outlines the following key findings:

- Some pupils, including those in primary school, were being exposed to hard-core pornography and the images they saw were twisting their views on sex and relationships.

- Groping, name calling and bullying is part of "everyday life" for schoolgirls but is dismissed by teachers as "just banter"

- 29% of 16-18 year-old girls said they had experienced unwanted sexual touching at school

- 59% of girls and young women aged 13-21 said in 2014 that they had faced some form of sexual harassment at school or college in the past year

- 71% of 16-18 year old boys and girls say they hear terms such as slut or slag used towards girls at schools on a regular basis

The report finds an alarming inconsistency in how schools deal with sexual harassment and violence, which is mostly targeted at girls, a disregard for existing national and international equality obligations, and a lack of guidance and support for teachers.

MPs heard evidence that many schools are under-reporting incidents and often failing to take them seriously. Despite calls from parents, teachers and young people for action, the Committee found that neither OFSTED nor the Department for Education has a coherent plan to tackle this issue and to monitor the scale of the problem.

The report recommends that the government must use the new Education Bill to ensure schools have clear national guidance to take appropriate action in preventing and responding to sexual harassment and sexual violence.

Girlguiding members are launching a petition to coincide with the report calling on Education Ministers to end sexual harassment in schools. The petition calls for a zero tolerance approach, compulsory Relationship and Sex Education and a duty on schools to prevent and tackle sexual harassment.

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