Ofsted report on sexual harassment: harrowing stories from students

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Students’ harrowing tales of ‘rape jokes’ on the bus, being ‘retouched’ in hallways and dealing with up to 11 messages asking for nudity every night have been revealed in a damning Ofsted report.

The school inspectorate spoke to more than 800 children and young people aged 13 and older about sexual intimidation and violence.

Shocking experiences with catcalling on the school bus, women avoiding certain areas of the school for fear of abuse and inappropriate compliments from male teachers emerged in the report calling for better sex education.

The conclusions state that heads “should assume that sexual harassment and online sexual abuse is taking place…even if there are no specific reports”.

About 92 percent of the students surveyed said they had experienced catcalling, while 81 percent were troubled by rumors that their sexual activity was being spread in school.

The Education Inspectorate spoke to more than 800 children and young people aged 13 and older about sexual harassment and violence (file image)

The Education Inspectorate spoke to more than 800 children and young people aged 13 and older about sexual harassment and violence (file image)

Students from an unnamed school said that sharing “nude” – sexual images – was widespread and that “body shaming” and “slut shaming” were common.

At another school, girls said they were regularly “retouched” in crowded hallways.

Girls revealed that they felt uncomfortable when boys walked up the stairs behind them and into stairwells where people can see their skirts from below.

“Some mentioned the areas of the college or school where they felt wary — either because they were out of sight of the staff or because they were uncomfortable with the people ‘hanging out’ there,” the report reads.

At another school, boys shared the nudes given to them by their peers and treated it as a “collection game.”

Some girls said they had as many as 11 guys message them every night asking for nude photos.

A shocking nine out of ten girls experience sexist name-calling and receive unwanted explicit photos.  Stock image

A shocking nine out of ten girls experience sexist name-calling and receive unwanted explicit photos.  Stock image

A shocking nine out of ten girls experience sexist name-calling and receive unwanted explicit photos. Stock image

If girls told boys not to send them a nude photo, they would “just create multiple accounts to harass you,” students told Ofsted’s inspectors.

Girls talked about how guys are very persistent when they ask for pictures – ‘they just won’t take no’, the report reads.

In one school, children as young as 10 years old sent nude photos, the report found.

Often the harassment happened on the bus while students were traveling to and from schools and universities.

One woman told how her younger sister’s leg was ‘deliberately’ brushed by a man, after which another girl told her to ‘get used to it because ‘this is what happens”.

“We heard cases of boys’ toilets with no locks, a locker room by the pool where a single door meant girls thought people could see them naked as they walked by, and a male teacher complimenting girls on their appearance,” the report said. added.

A twelfth-year-old boy told inspectors that many of his peers came from wealthy backgrounds and that he had never been told no before.

The boy said ‘they don’t know how to deal with it’ when he suddenly ran into girls at parties after being educated in gay schools.

The report added: ‘At another school, girls similarly told inspectors that some boys felt they were entitled and never got a ‘no’.

Amanda Spielman, Ofsted’s Superintendent of Schools, said she was “appalled” at the prevalence of sexual misconduct that “should have no place” in schools and colleges.

The watchdog visited 32 public and private schools and colleges and spoke to more than 900 young people after thousands of horrific stories of student harassment were shared on the website Everyone’s Invited.

Instead of waiting for complaints, chiefs should “assume that sexual harassment and online sexual abuse is happening…even if there are no specific reports.” Stock image

Ms Spielman said: ‘It is alarming that many children and young people, especially girls, feel that they have to accept sexual harassment as part of growing up. Whether it’s at school or in their social lives, they just don’t think it’s worth reporting it.’

She added: “It’s about normalizing attitudes and behavior, and schools and colleges can’t solve that alone.”

Most children also felt that sex education did not give them the information they needed. Girls were frustrated by a lack of clarity about what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable behavior and many had turned to social media or their peers to educate each other.

A female student told the inspectors, “It shouldn’t be our responsibility to raise boys.”

Another said sharing “nude photos” was so widespread that trying to stop was like “playing a mole.”

Teachers also admitted that they lacked knowledge about tackling topics like consent, relationships and sharing sexual images.

Ofsted calls on school leaders to develop a culture where all forms of sexual harassment are recognized and punished where appropriate.

The review also calls on ministers to consider the watchdog’s findings as the government develops the online safety law to strengthen internet safeguards for children.

Ms Spielman adds: ‘Schools and universities of applied sciences play a key role. They can maintain the right culture in their corridors and they can RSHE [relationships, sex and health education] that reflects reality and provides young people with the information they need.’

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: ‘Ofsted’s review made it clear that sharing unsolicited explicit photos, online pornography and everyday sexism can, unfortunately, be ‘normal’ aspects of young people’s daily lives. This is completely unacceptable.’

It comes as a Femail survey of 2,000 young people revealed the shocking toll of porn culture in schools.

Forty percent of girls who have had sex say they have had a sexual act performed on themselves while asleep or unconscious, and 55 percent of girls and boys have seen explicit clips online, and more than half of them did this on 16.

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