The children’s minister has praised Stroud High School pupils for highlighting the sexual harassment they receive in uniform when the matter was raised by MP Siobhan Baillie in parliament.
Siobhan recently went to the school, and was told students undertook a survey showing 44% of girls at the school in years eight to 11 had experienced some form of public sexual harassment while in their school uniforms but only 13% reported it.
Siobhan told the House of Commons yesterday: “I want to give credit to Stroud High School girls, who took the initiative to gather evidence of harassment of their peers and to get me in to talk about it.
“It makes my blood boil now even to think about what they are enduring, sometimes on a daily basis, wearing their school uniforms in the street.
“We know that online abuse is fuelling poor real-life behaviour. These are hidden horrors. A lot of the abuse is anonymous and parents are, frankly, terrified. The Minister cares an awful lot about this issue. Can she confirm that the Government’s flagship online harms legislation that is coming through is going to help protect young people, and will she tell us a little bit more about how it will prevent the sharing of unsolicited images?”
In reply, Vicky Ford said: “May I also thank the girls from Stroud High School. It takes great bravery and courage to do that, yet it is actions like that by young girls and women across the country that are helping to make the world a better place for future children.
“As I said earlier, I can confirm that the strongest protections in the online safety Bill are for children. It is particularly important that companies will be required to protect children from illegal and harmful content, including self-generated content when it is on their platforms.
“We know that legislating in the digital world can sometimes be challenging, but we are ahead of the world on this and are absolutely committed to the end objective: ensuring that our children are, as far as possible, as safe online as they are offline. Again, this is also an issue of helping to change the cultural dial.”
Siobhan was speaking in parliament yesterday following a statement from the minister about Ofsted’s Review of Sexual Abuse in Schools and Colleges.
It found that sexual harassment and online sexual abuse are such a routine part of school children’s daily lives they see little point in challenging or reporting it.
Girls were also disproportionately affected with upskirting, name calling, unwanted touching in school and outside and that some boys share nude pictures on digital platforms “like a collection game”.