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Photo by CDC on Unsplash
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World News

Girls Christian ministry 'not surprised’ by Ofsted’s findings of increased misogyny in schools

by Lydia Davies

Recent Ofsted reports show an increase of sexual harassment and abuse in schools.

The complaints are significantly higher since 2017. According to the statistics, mentions of sexual harassment in Ofsted reports surged from zero in 2017 to 40 in 2021 and 106 in 2022. References to sexual abuse rose from 4 in 2017 to 28 in 2022, with safeguarding incidents doubling from 43 to 87.

Girls Brigade CEO, Judith Davey-Cole, told Premier that she was “not surprised” by the recent statistics. “We ran a retreat for 15 young women [where we] explored the issue of sexual harassment and all of them reported this this was a real issue for them and their friends.”

The Labour Party has raised concerns over this disturbing trend, warning that failing to address the issue now could lead to significant problems in the future.

Bridget Phillipson, the Shadow Education Secretary, expressed deep concern, stating: "Misogyny is becoming increasingly prevalent in our classrooms, and if left unchecked, it will have serious consequences for society down the line."

Social media, particularly the influence of figures like Andrew Tate, who is facing serious charges, has been identified as a contributing factor to the rise of what's described as "toxic masculinity."

Phillipson said: "Female pupils and teachers deserve the right to a safe space, but it is evident that content from influencers such as Andrew Tate is having a lasting and damaging impact on boys and young men."

Judith also believes that digital technology has a part to play. She said: “We think digital literacy is very important. One of the most important parts of the Girls Brigade programme is girls of all ages study social media and online safety”.

Labour has pledged to introduce lessons on respecting women and girls into the school curriculum and grant Ofsted the authority to conduct annual safeguarding checks. Additionally, plans include establishing regional improvement teams to provide training and embedding digital literacy in the curriculum to address online hate and misinformation.

Teaching unions have welcomed these proposals, recognising the importance of comprehensive action to cut down the abuse.

"We know from reports from members, our casework, and previous research that sexual harassment and sexist abuse towards both female teachers and pupils in schools and colleges is commonplace and that the majority of incidents fail to be reported or dealt with effectively," said Patrick Roach, NASUWT general secretary.

Margaret Mulholland, of the Association of School and College Leaders, also supported Labour's focus on digital literacy and stressed the importance of collaboration between schools, politicians, and external agencies to combat misogyny effectively.

"It’s important that young people, particularly boys, are involved in the conversation to combat this problem and feel empowered to make good decisions and form healthy relationships," Mulholland added.


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