The inclusion of Powys schools on a website listing allegations of rape culture within British schools has been highlighted by Powys Liberal Democrats.
‘Everyone’s Invited’ is a website which posts testimonies (mostly but not all anonymous) from current and former pupils and students of schools, colleges, and universities, detailing experiences of sexual harassment, assault, and coercion and a general culture and normalisation of misogyny. The website reports allegations of incidents and behaviour occurring within education institutions, as well in other environments such as house parties or school buses.
The website has published an updated list of schools where experiences of rape culture have been reported, including Llandrindod Wells High School, Builth Wells High School, Machynlleth High School, Gwernyfed High School, Ysgol Llanfyllin High School, Welshpool High School, and Christ College, Brecon.
Everyone’s Invited defines rape culture as:
“…when attitudes, behaviours and beliefs in society have the effect of normalising and trivialising sexual violence. This culture includes misogyny, rape jokes, sexual harassment (groping, non-consensual touching), image based abuse (upskirting, non-consensual sharing of intimate photos, cyberflashing), and sexual coercion. When behaviours such as these are normalised this can act as a gateway to more extreme acts such as sexual assault and rape.”
James Gibson-Watt, Glasbury Councillor and Leader of the Liberal Democrat-Green Group on Powys County Council, has submitted a formal question to Conservative Councillor Phyl Davies, the Powys Portfolio Holder for Education and Property, asking:
“Given that several Powys schools are listed on the Everyone’s Invited website today as schools whose pupils have provided testimonials about suffering from sexual harassment and abuse, could the Portfolio Holder outline the safeguarding support that Powys County Council is providing to its schools to help combat this serious and very concerning problem.”
Ofsted published a report on 10th June, that looked into sexual abuse at schools in England. It includes questionnaire data from girls aged 13 and above, which shows that 80% of respondents reported ‘being put under pressure to provide sexual images of themselves’; that 68% reported ‘feeling pressured to do sexual things that they did not want to’; and 59% reported ‘being photographed or videoed without their knowledge or consent’.
In a joint statement, Cllr James Gibson-Watt, Alison Alexander, Welsh Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Montgomeryshire, and Jane Dodds, Welsh Liberal Democrat Member of the Senedd for Mid and West Wales, said:
“News that Everyone’s List has received reports from several secondary schools in Powys is extremely disturbing.
“Rape culture, sexual harassment, misogyny, bullying and actual sexual violence and abuse, are sadly not new problems in schools. For too many years, not enough has been done to tackle this behaviour and too many schools, teachers, parents, politicians and policy-makers have not taken the impact of a toxic culture on the well-being of many children and young people seriously enough.
“It is also clear that the use of both social media and pornography by younger children is rapidly exacerbating old problems and creating new means of abuse. Our safeguarding policies and curriculum need to catch-up with the lived experiences of today’s children and young people.
“There needs to be a recognition that a particular problem exists with the attitudes and behaviours of many boys towards girls, whilst also recognising that both girls and boys are victims of sexual harassment, bullying, violence or abuse.”
“We are hopeful that the new Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) curriculum, introduced by former Welsh Liberal Democrat Education Minister Kirsty Williams, with its focus on healthy relationships, consent and staying safe online, can mark a turning point in the culture of our school system.
“Nonetheless, it is vital that the Welsh Government, Estyn, and Local Education Authorities - like Powys - also prioritise training all teachers and education professionals to identify and address rape culture in schools and that parents, carers and children are provided with the information and support that they need to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.
“Everyone’s Invited has shone a light on rape culture in our schools. Now we need to see action to tackle the problem and make the changes that will keep our children safe.”
Everyone’s Invited, https://www.everyonesinvited.uk/everyones-invited-challenge, (Accessed 10th June 2021)
BBC News, Girls asked for nudes by up to 11 boys a night, Ofsted finds, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-57411363, (Accessed 10th June 2021)
Gov.UK/Ofsted, Review of sexual abuse in schools and colleges, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/review-of-sexual-abuse-in-schools-and-colleges/review-of-sexual-abuse-in-schools-and-colleges#what-did-we-find-out-about-the-scale-and-nature-of-sexual-abuse-in-schools, (Accessed 10th June 2021)