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Preventing and responding to Sexual Bullying

The Anti-Bullying Alliance has developed this guide on prevention and response to sexual bullying to assist teachers and other professionals as they seek to educate and support children.

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It is written to apply to the school environment but many of the principles are relevant to other settings where adults support children and young people. It draws on evidence from both the research literature and evidence derived from consultation with children, disabled children and those with special educational needs (SEN) and professionals in relation to sexual bullying. It outlines the specific issues that professionals should be aware of in relation to sexual bullying and also suggests actions that staff can take to educate and support all students, and especially those disabled children and those with SEN, around this sensitive and often neglected issue.

The views of children and young people involved in the consultation, and associated quotations, are used throughout.

We would encourage you to use this to share key messages with other staff members as you develop your own action plan to tackle all forms of bullying behaviour.

Summary

  • Bullying has a significant effect on children and young people’s mental health, emotional well-being and identity – and schools have a legal duty to tackle it.
  • Sexual bullying is a significant issue for all children and young people – but disabled children and those with SEN are at particular risk of sexual abuse.
  • Knowledge is power. All children need support to understand about puberty and sexual development; to recognise harmful sexual behaviour; to learn about consent, and to communicate concerns about sexual bullying.
  • Schools have a duty to create an environment where sexism is not tolerated; where personal space of students and staff is respected; where sexist language and comments are challenged, and where students and staff feel empowered to say no to any unwanted touch.

Education does not create more harassment. It puts a name on the inappropriate behaviour that already exists.  Education does not create more problems for educators.  It allows existing problems to be identified and solved at the local level.