Department for Education publishes guidance on sexual harassment

Posted on 15 December 2017

The Department for Education has published advice for schools and colleges on how to prevent and respond to reports of sexual violence and harassment between children. It is also seeking views on this and proposed revisions to Keeping Children Safe in Education.

The guidance includes:

  • what sexual violence and harassment is
  • schools’ and colleges’ legal responsibilities
  • a whole school or college approach to safeguarding and child protection
  • how to respond to reports of sexual violence and sexual harassment

The guidance defines sexual harassment as ‘unwanted conduct of a sexual nature’ and it sets out how this can occur both online and offline.

Online sexual harassment

The guidance explains how online sexual harassment can include non-consensual sharing of sexual images and videos; inappropriate sexual comments on social media; exploitation; coercion and threats.

The guidance refers to Project deSHAME, a Europe-wide collaboration that Childnet – a partner in the UK Safer Internet Centre – is delivering around online sexual harassment. Last week, we published research into this issue. The survey of 1,559 UK teens found that that in the last year almost a third of girls aged 13-17 years (31%) have received unwanted sexual messages online from their peers (compared to 11% of boys), while 1 in 10 UK youth have been targeted online by their peers with sexual threats such as rape threats. Over half of UK teens have witnessed their peers circulating nude or nearly nude images of someone they know.

You can join the Project deSHAME network to receive updates about this topic and you can explore our full definition of online sexual harassment.

Have your say: respond to the Department for Education consultation

The Department for Education has opened a consultation into this new advice, as well as proposed revisions to the statutory guidance 'Keeping children safe in education'.

Following this consultation, the government proposes to update and replace the current statutory guidance ‘Keeping children safe in education 2016’. The government will also consider revising the advice on sexual violence and sexual harassment.

The consultation closes on 18 February 2018 and you can respond online

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