The recently released 2017 Girls’ Attitudes Survey by Girlguiding UK, found that 64% of girls aged 13-21 experienced sexual harassment in school, compared to 59% in 2014.

The survey also found that in 2017, the number of girls experiencing sexual taunts in school increased from 37% to 41%. Frequent unwanted attention rose from 14% to 19% and the biggest increase was seen in sexist comments on social media, which 36% of girls said they had received, compared to 15% in 2014.

“In 2014, Girlguiding’s Girls’ Attitudes Survey found that 59% of girls had experienced some kind of sexual harassment at school – a shockingly high figure. Unbelievably, the 2017 survey found that this figure had increased to 64%,” said Girlguiding advocate, Evelyn.

“Our schools should be a safe place for learning and socialising, not a place of fear and harassment. Sadly, this simply reflects attitudes which prevail in wider society.”

Girls across the UK have told City News about their experiences of sexual harassment at school, something they say was ‘normalised’ from a young age.

“When I was 13/14, boys in my school would play a game called ‘nervous’, where they would slide their hand up your leg and see how far they could take it before you said no. So of course, you were either frigid or a slut,” says Isabella, 19, from London.

“When I was 13 in ICT lessons, I sat between the two same boys. Nearly every lesson one of the boys would hold back both my arms whilst the other would go up my shirt and feel my breasts. I remember at the time fighting back and trying to stop them, but after the lesson was over I would never tell anyone because I thought they were just trying to ‘flirt’,” says Caitlin, 21, from Newcastle.

 “It was always seen as ‘normal’ for boys to comment on our bodies so openly. I remember a group of guys loudly rating girls as they walked past in the corridor,” says Lani, 23, from Manchester.

In December 2017, the government issued a document advising schools on how to approach and tackle sexual harassment and violence between children.

From September 2019, sex and relationships education will be compulsory in all schools, something that Evelyn and Girlguiding welcome.

“We believe that part of solving this problem is providing high-quality, compulsory Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) for all school pupils. We have also campaigned for schools to be provided with comprehensive guidance on how to deal with sexual harassment and warmly welcome the guidance published in December last year.”

*Last names of interviewees have been omitted for privacy reasons