The rise in allegations of sexual assault and harasment since Sarah Everards death has sparked a national conversation about women's safety, and students around the UK have risen to the challenge of tackalling issues of rape culture and sexual harassment in schools. 


The statistic 97% has been displayed all over social media and school students have taken movements to their school by wearing red, carrying signs and writing 97% on their hands in solidarity. A student at a school in greater london said that “Students decided to wear red in support for the cause and in response to the issue of sexual violence against women.”


I spoke to a few female students and asked them what action they hoped that their school would take. Grace at St Philomena’s in carshalton said that “Schools can tackle sexual misconduct by educating everyone on how to identify types of sexual misconduct and assault.” She specified how important it is to educate students on consent from a young age so that students can “know when they are not safe or if they have previously been assaulted.” 


Another female student added that schools should “spread awareness” to tackle rape culture and misogyny within schools. As well as “teaching boys from a young age of the importance of consent and other important issues around treating others with respect.” Identifying how “this can help to dismantle the culture that normalises male violence and harassment of women.”


Students also focused a large proprtion of their campaigns on the importance of criminal reform and how “it is also up to the criminal justice system to enforce stricter sentances for  rape and sexual assault charges, as it can only become less common if it is seen as a serious crime and treated as such.”


Rape culture and misogony within schools is an ongoing issue that the government should prioritise. Students have specified how “It must be a priority to teach boys how they can make women feel safe in public and ensure that they are educated on how to have healthy, safe and consensual relationships”. Schools have a responsibility and duty of care to teach students consent and the importance of healthy relationships as if this is done correctly it can help to tackle the issue of gender based violence and reduce the justified fear many women feel when in public spaces. 


As a member of an all girls school Grace Cobb a student at St Philomena’s stated that “ Schools also have a duty to educate girls and young women on how to increase their personal safety, especially in public and in relationships, as although taking extra safety precautions should not be necessary and are not the root cause of the problem, it is nevertheless vital that girls know how to decrease the likelihood of becoming a victim of sexual assault.”


In the future students hope to see more frequent and open discussion around issues of sexual misconduct such as catcalling, and how to react to and cope with receiving public and private harassment. Grace stated that she “would also like to see effective methods of personal safety being taught, such as self defence lessons.”


Students have had to take action where they have felt like those in power both in government and in their schools have failed to do so. We look forward to seeing the action schools will implement to combat this toxic culture that breeds gender based violence and prejudice.