UK

Journey to tackle gender-based violence must start in schools – Yousaf

The Scottish Government will launch a new framework to help schools tackle the issue on Monday.

The strategy aims to support schools to tackle gender based violence
School pupils The strategy aims to support schools to tackle gender based violence (David Jones/PA)

Scotland’s First Minister has said he hopes a new framework to help schools tackle gender-based violence will empower young people to be the “generation that eradicates misogyny”.

The new Scottish Government framework has been developed in collaboration with Rape Crisis Scotland and Zero Tolerance, and features testimony from young people and school staff.

First Minister Humza Yousaf said that change must happen at all levels of society and that “crucially that journey must begin in our schools”.

He and Scotland’s Education Secretary Jenny Gilruth will launch the new framework on Monday.

It has been designed to support schools to tackle gender-based violence, which refers to behaviours ranging from name calling, intimidation and physical violence to sexual harassment and emotional abuse.

Speaking ahead of the launch, Mr Yousaf said: “Our Behaviour in Scottish Schools Research, published in November 2023, identified a rise in misogyny as a worrying emerging trend within our schools.

“School staff pointed to an increase in sexist and misogynistic behaviour among male pupils, particularly related to negative male role models online.

“This was directed not only towards their peers, but also towards their female teachers, who of course make up the majority of the teaching profession.

Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf
Scotland's First Minister Humza Yousaf Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf (Jane Barlow/PA)

“We must do everything we can to curb the rise in such attitudes. It’s time to raise the level of the conversation in our society, being frank about the impact of the normalisation of misogynistic behaviours and attitudes in our society that too often go unchallenged.

“We will help to do that by providing tools to support a vision for a more positive view of what masculinity means and why it is important.

“That must happen at all levels of society, and – crucially – that journey must begin in our schools.

“By starting conversations amongst pupils that challenge societal views which normalise gender-based violence, it is my sincere hope that we can empower young people to be the generation that eradicates misogyny.”

The framework forms part of the Scottish Government’s wider response to challenges with behaviour in schools.

Mike Corbett, national official for the NASUWT union, said: “Our research into behaviour in schools, coupled with our casework, demonstrates that sexual harassment and sexist abuse towards both female teachers and pupils in schools and colleges is commonplace and that the majority of incidents fail to be reported or dealt with effectively.

“We welcome the commitment to tackling the many forms of misogyny and supporting effective practice in schools.

“This must also include equipping schools to confront sexism and misogyny in the curriculum.

“Women and girls have a right to be afforded safety, security and respect at all times.

“We need greater transparency and, crucially, a climate that encourages unacceptable behaviours to be reported in the confidence that action will be taken.”