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We must teach boys more about sexual abuse and harassment, warn heads

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More must be done to teach boys about sexual abuse and harassment, headteachers of girls’ schools warned today, amid a surge in the number of young people reporting incidents at school.

More than 3,000 allegations have been made against British schools on the website Everyone’s Invited, set up for students and former pupils to report claims of sexual harassment.

Vicky Bingham, head of the all-girls South Hampstead High School, said: “I worry that the internet has created new social norms around sexual behaviour and we have to call those out. But the burden should not fall on women and girls. They have been carrying it for long enough.”

Referring to the Everyone’s Invited website, Gill Cross, deputy head of Streatham and Clapham High School, said: “Our advice is that there needs to be far more education for boys about what is and is not acceptable in their treatment of girls and that girls speak up and challenge these types of attitudes.”

She added: “It is the day-to-day negative behaviours towards women from which we should like to protect our girls. Part of this, of course, is the reality that they are more at risk from male friends and relations than they are from strangers.”

She added: “If we could educate boys more and make girls more confident in their rights we would have a better society for us all.”

Fionnuala Kennedy, head of Wimbledon High School, said: “What the girls feel strongly about is…how come it’s we who have to be educated about this? Who is banging the drum with the boys to educate them not to turn out this way and behave in this way?”

She added: “Boys’ schools are having to really pick their games up on this. Boys are confused as well.

“It’s not easy being a teenage boy every bit as it’s not easy being a teenage girl, and they need help navigating that. But they need real guidelines about what is unacceptable behaviour is. It’s still not being called out enough.”

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