Sexual taunts ‘part of life’ for girls as young as 7

Girlguiding Scotland's survey of 1,400 girls found that six in ten had been sexually harassed
Girlguiding Scotland's survey of 1,400 girls found that six in ten had been sexually harassed
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SIX in ten young girls have been victims of sexual harassment from boys, a survey has revealed.

The research showed girls as young as seven are being subjected to sexual taunts and are growing up with sexual harassment as a “normal” part of their everyday lives.

The girls have also told how some of the teachers they tell about the incidents of sexual harassment dismiss it as a bit of banter.

The Girls’ Attitudes Survey 2014 of more than 1,400 girls was carried out on behalf of Girlguiding Scotland, Scotland’s largest youth charity.

It found that one in five girls aged seven to 12 has experienced jokes of a sexual nature from boys and 59 per cent of girls and young women aged 13 to 21 have faced some form of sexual harassment at school or college. One in five girls in this age group has experienced unwanted sexual attention, unwanted touching, or seen rude or obscene graffiti about girls or women.

But 70 per cent of the girls polled said they would be reluctant to report incidents of sexual harassment over fears they may be bullied or teased.

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Girlguiding Scotland, which has more than 60,000 members, is now calling on politicians to act to end sexual bullying by signing up to the Girls Matter campaign.

The campaign includes a call for schools to take a zero tolerance approach to sexual bullying and harassment.

Amy Callaghan, 16, a Girlguiding Scotland member from Glasgow who was part of the panel that developed and analysed the research, said: “Every day, many girls’ lives are made a misery by sexist comments, sexual harassment and abuse at school. What’s worse is that it’s not being treated as a serious issue. “We need politicians to take action and sign up to our Girls Matter pledges. We need them to send a message that this kind of behaviour towards girls and young women will not be tolerated.”

Denise King, Girlguiding Scotland chief executive, described the findings as “shocking”.

She said: “This shocking research shows we must act to stop sexual harassment being normalised by our society. We want to ensure all girls live in a safe, fair and equal society that lets them reach their full potential.

“We’re calling on all politicians to take a stand and sign up to Girlguiding’s Girls Matter campaign.”

The UK-wide survey also saw girls report worrying levels of control and bullying among their peers’ relationships.

More than one third of girls aged 11 to 21 know girls and young women their age who have experienced control or bullying from a partner and a quarter said they knew of at least one woman who has experienced violence from a partner.

And more than half of the girls questioned said they did not like the way many music videos present women, saying it was “disrespectful”.

Girls’ Attitudes 2014 is a survey of 1,405 girls and young women aged between seven and 21, inside and outside Guiding across the UK.

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