The Government's head of Education has called for “big societal and institutional changes” to stamp out rape culture after an anonymous survey by JCG students lifted the lid on the misogyny, sexism and even sexual assaults school-age girls are regularly facing.
Year 12 students made a total of 68 anonymous disclosures in March 2021 as part of a student-led survey prompted by the murder of Sarah Everard - 55 of which would have warranted criminal investigation, according to Police.
Incidents reported included harassment via sexual jokes and taunts, the sharing of unsolicited pictures and intimidating physical behaviour. Some testimonies concerned “serious” sexual advances, including assaults, and there was one allegation of rape.
There were also a few anonymous posts from male students mentioning experiences of homophobic taunts and bullying.
Pictured: Year 12s students from JCG made a total of 68 anonymous disclosures in March 2021 as part of a student-led survey prompted by the murder of Sarah Everard.
The contents of the sixth-formers' testimonies were noted today in a Safeguarding Partnership Board Review, which looked into the way they had been handled by JCG and Victoria College, whose heads were reportedly “shocked by the nature and prevalence of sexual harassment and abuse” highlighted in the testimonies.
While the schools took immediate action and the SPB has called for schools to re-evaluate and update their processes and guidance for dealing with such allegations, Mark Rogers, who is the Director General of the Children, Young People, Education and Skills (CYPES) Department says that the issues raised will have to be tackled on a wider scale.
Speaking at a media briefing, he said: “Most of the time most young people who wish to bring forward a concern, whether female or male, feel inhibited in doing so because generally in society, and the public institutions that represent society, they don’t have the level of confidence they should have to do so.”
He said that in addition to making sure schools remain “safe places where youngsters feel that they can talk to anyone who they feel are a trusted adult”, a societal change is needed.
Pictured: Mark Rogers, the Director General for Children, Young People, Education & Skills (CYPES).
“The issue as I see it, not just in Jersey but also more generally, is that mainly women, we do know they are others who are victims of these kinds of crimes, but it is mainly women who suffer from them, they're not believed enough and we don't see alleged offences going right the way through the process into successful prosecution,” he explained.
“So actually, the bigger system needs to make that happen as well, so that people think if they do complain, they won't just be supported today by their teacher, or their mum and dad or their carer, but actually the criminal justice system can deliver an outcome for them as well.
“The number of rape allegations that go forward to court, in other words, there's a charge and that charge is then heard in a court, is falling dramatically. We also know the number of successful prosecutions of alleged rapes has dropped off a cliff.
“Something has to happen at the back end of the system to give you confidence at this end to say that something has happened to you. That’s the big societal and institutional changes to make it more likely that whoever has been abused will be believed.”
Pictured: "I think we need to do as much to understand what happens outside of school as we do inside school," Mr Rogers said.
Mr Rogers said the victims shouldn’t be made to feel like they have to provide the solutions, instead suggesting that the root of such behaviour needs to be tackled.
“Some people might think that if a young woman is walking across the grounds of Vic College, and somebody is saying something wrong to her, that she should go a different way," he said. “Absolutely not, what we have to change is the reasons for that behaviour.”
He said this would require “a more developed level of understanding” of the issues, from teachers, to parents, young people themselves, as well Ministers, who he said are able to engage the community in a way the civil service cannot.
“If it's true that there is a kind of 'rape culture', and within that culture you actually don't get called out and ultimately prosecuted, then some of that has got to be to do with the fact that people probably don't understand enough about what's actually happening at the moment,” he said.
“I don't think this isn't an education issue, as in schools and colleges, this is an issue that appears or presents itself in schools and colleges, that actually is driven by society's values.
"I think we need to do as much to understand what happens outside of school as we do inside school, because ultimately, if we're going to stop things happening in schools, it's because we stopped things happening outside of school.
“I think it works from the professionals, but equally society needs to have a bit of a think about whether it's actually going to put up with it.”
Young people in need of support in relation to the issues discussed in this article are able to make use of the following:
The YES project (Youth Enquiry Service) offers information, advice and counselling for young people up to 25 years old. It is free to call on 0800 7350 010 and is open from 12:00 until 20:00 daily.
Kooth Jersey provides a safe, moderated and non-judgmental place for young people to talk, connect and chat with others and know they are not alone. The service offers drop-in or bookable sessions with professional counsellors between 12:00 and 22:00 on weekdays and between 18:00 and 22:00 on weekends. Young people can access Kooth by visiting www.kooth.com and selecting 'Jersey Kooth' during the sign up process.
The Children and Families Hub offers support and help for safeguarding concerns. Please call the hub on 519000 or email email@example.com
Young Person's Sexual Abuse Advisor - Jersey Domestic Abuse Support (JDAS) is an independent service developed to protect and support victims of domestic and sexual abuse. A Young Person's Sexual Abuse Adviso can offer support and advice around how to keep young people safe as well as their emotional wellbeing. They can be contacted at 01534 880505 between 08:00 and 17:00. Live Chat is also available 08:00 to 22:00, seven days a week.
The Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) provides a comprehensive and co-ordinated forensic, counselling and aftercare service to men, women and children, who have experienced rape or sexual assault, whether this has happened recently or in the past. They can be contacted at 01534 888222.
Jersey Action Against Rape (JAAR) is an independent and confidential charity helping people to recover from the trauma of sexual violence, whether recent or not. They can be contacted on 01534 482800 or via jaar.je
If a child is at immediate risk call the police on 999.
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