Case Study: Girlguiding Scotland


Girlguiding Scotland wants every girl to feel safe and happy at school but, sadly, we know this isn’t always the case. That’s why our young members have been campaigning to end sexual harassment and sexist bullying in schools and to make sure all young people receive up-to-date, high-quality sex and relationships education covering essential topics like consent, equality, online abuse and healthy relationships.

We started this campaign following feedback from our young members and research from the Girls’ Attitude Survey that highlighted the issues of sexual harassment in school.

Harassment is often an issue associated with adults but, for many girls, these experiences begin in school. Our research* found that 64% (age 13-21) of girls have experiences some form of harassment in schools, including unwanted touching and groping, sexual taunts or being sent explicit comments or content online. Girls also told us that harassment wasn’t being seen as a serious issue and was often dismissed as just ‘boys being boys’.

That’s why we’ve been campaigning to tackle sexist attitudes early, making sure girls can feel safe and happy now and in their future lives. Our campaign calls for:

  • All young people in Scotland to receive high-quality Sex and Relationships Education covering consent, online abuse, gender equality and healthy relationships.
  • All schools to have a duty to prevent and tackle sexual harassment and be held accountable
  • National guidance to ensure schools know how to take a zero tolerance approach to sexual harassment

Our young members have been calling for action on sexual harassment since 2016. During this time, they’ve spoken out in the media and presented evidence the Scottish Parliament’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee during their review of national anti-bullying guidance.

Following our evidence, we’ve been really encouraged to see the Scottish Government committing to better monitoring of incidences of sexual harassment and sexist bullying in schools.

We believe new anti-bullying guidance will help to ensure sexual harassment is treated seriously and sensitively and that when young people come forward to report incidents they know their voices will be heard.

While we’re proud of the progress we’ve made so far we know there’s still a long way to go to end sexual harassment in schools and in girls & young women’s everyday lives. That’s why we’re continuing to call for high quality sex and relationships education to be incorporated into PSHE.

Girls told us their experience of sex and relationships education could be inconsistent and outdated but that there’s also a huge opportunity to start tackling sexist attitudes and inequality early.

By making sure all young people have access to high quality sex and relationships education covering topics like gender equality, consent, healthy relationships, online pornography and abuse we can ensue all young people know their rights, feel empowered to challenge sexist behaviour and can make positive choices now and in the future.

We know that for far too many girls and young women sexist bullying and sexual harassment are a part of everyday life. We want every girl to feel safe and happy in education and out and about in her community, and we know education has a hugely powerful role to play. By making sure all young people have access to high quality sex and relationships education we can challenge the attitudes that allow sexism and harassment to happen and create a safer, happier, more equal future for every young person in Scotland. Visit our website to find out how you can support our campaign.

Learn more at: www.girlguidingscotland.org.uk/what-we-say/campaigns/sexual-harassment-in-schools/.

And join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @GirlguidingScot.