The Jewish Chronicle

Immanuel makes rape culture a talking point


IMMANUEL COLLEGE in Bushey is developing workshops for pupils to discuss the issues raised by recent revelation­s of sexual harassment and abuse of girls in UK schools.

Over the past few days, the website Everyone’s Invited, set up to counter “rape culture”, has published 14,000 anonymous testimonie­s from girls across the country.

Claire Shooter, deputy head at Immanuel in charge of pastoral care, said it had been “extremely concerning and upsetting to hear what a widespread issue this is across schools.

“We have addressed all senior school pupils and written to parents to reiterate that Immanuel College will not tolerate sexism, misogyny, sexual harassment or abuse in any way, shape or form.”

Pupils have been reminded that staff were there to listen and support, she said. “We are developing workshops with different year groups to listen to their views and to discuss the issues. It’s clear that educating pupils to be empathetic and respectful needs to be an ongoing process from a young age, starting from primary school.”

Discussion­s around consent, misogyny, sexual harassment and violence need to embedded in personal, health and social education and relationsh­ips and sex education curricula, supported by assemblies and “parent informatio­n evenings, and

It’s upsetting to hear what a widespread issue this is across schools’

reinforced through conversati­ons at home”. PaJeS, the Jewish Leadership Council’s schools network, said it was in discussion with schools and “considerin­g co-ordinating an education programme across the schools”.

The posts on Everyone’s Invited cannot be independen­tly verified but include a number that are said to come from Jewish schoolgirl­s.

They range from being groped in a school lunch queue to more serious sexual assaults at parties — sometimes when they had had too much to drink. In one of the worst posts, one girl said she had tried to killed herself after being raped by a friend when she was 15 and “on the verge of blackout”.

One girl said she believed that the boy who molested her would not have done so if he had been better educated to understand “how awful” his behaviour had been.

Last week the inspection service

Ofsted announced an inquiry into how schools deal with sexual abuse and harassment. Its chief inspector Amanda Spielman said: “Schools have a crucial role to play in teaching young people about sexual consent and respect for women and girls.

“They must also be places where all children feel safe, and where they are able to report any incidents of abuse or harassment and be confident that what they say will be acted upon.”


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