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Plans announced to stop sexual harassment in schools

The Welsh Government is working with NSPCC Cymru and young people to understand the solutions to preventing harmful behaviour.

Today the Welsh Government has published a new Peer-on-Peer Sexual Harassment Plan. The plan sets out how the Welsh Government will work with partners to prevent and end peer on peer sexual harassment and address harmful behaviour when it occurs.

A safe learning environment is essential to giving young people the best chances in education. The Welsh Government has published a new plan so that schools and colleges understand their roles and responsibilities, and provide quality training so staff can confidently address and teach about sexual harassment in a developmentally appropriate way. The plan has been co-created with a number of partners across the education sector, local authorities, the police and charities.

Recent reviews from Estyn, the Senedd’s Children, Young People and Education Committee inquiry, and first-hand accounts from learners through the Everyone’s Invited platform have revealed the extent of young people experiencing sexual harassment and harmful behaviour from their peers at school.

This evidence has shown that learners need to be able to voice their concerns about what they’re experiencing and feel listened to and understood, so schools, governments and partners have an accurate picture and can take steps to address it.

The Welsh Government is now working with NSPCC Cymru and young people in Wales on targeted engagement to understand the issues being faced by children and young people to help put their voices and experiences first. This work will seek to understand young people’s knowledge of peer-on-peer sexual harassment, whether they feel listened to and supported when they talk about and report peer on peer sexual harassment, and what the solutions could be to stopping it.

The Curriculum for Wales ensures all learners have access to developmentally appropriate lessons about healthy relationships with friends and family, and develop an understanding of appropriate behaviour. Lessons are tailored to a learner’s developmental stage. This learning, and a better awareness of harassment in schools brought forward by the new plan, aims to protect learners by empowering them to recognise harassment, speak out and get the support they need.

The Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles, said:

“Schools across Wales do excellent work in creating safe learning environments for their learners. However, just like in wider society, we know that harassment can be a problem. Everyone must know that any form of sexual harassment is completely unacceptable and must not be tolerated.

“I’m pleased we’re working with the NSPCC and young people themselves to address this issue. Protecting learners, listening and responding to their concerns is essential to ending harassment, supporting their wellbeing and boosting attendance.”

Cecile Gwilym, Policy and Public Affairs Manager for NSPCC Cymru said:

“It is crucial that the views of young people are at the forefront of shaping Welsh Government’s ongoing work on peer-on-peer sexual harassment. We know that sadly, peer on peer sexual harassment is part of their daily lives, both online and offline.

“We were delighted to work with young people to capture their views about solutions to tackle this issue. We held consultation workshops with schools and a youth group last year, using a range of creative methods to identify recommendations for tackling peer on peer sexual harassment and develop young people facing survey questions.”

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