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Half of further education students have experienced harassment whilst studying in school or college

Three quarters of further education students have witnessed harassment

Almost half (49%) of further education (FE) students have experienced harassment whilst studying in school or college, while a further three quarters (78%) have witnessed some form of inappropriate behaviour, according to new research from Culture Shift.

The research from the impact software developer reveals over half (55%) of FE students say harassment is common in their school or college, with one in 10 confirming they witness it frequently.

Of those surveyed, female respondents were 22% more likely to experience harassment than male respondents, while people with disabilities were more likely to report experiencing harassment than people without (66% vs. 46%).

“It’s extremely concerning to see that so many students in further education have experienced or witnessed harassment in their learning environment. Students should be able to feel safe and protected in school or college, yet our research is clear this is far from the case,” comments Gemma McCall, CEO, Culture Shift.

When it comes to understanding harassment and discrimination, more than two in five (44%) students were unable to correctly define both terms. Women were 53% more likely to be able to accurately define harassment than men, while heterosexual students were less likely to be able to correctly define harassment compared to LGBTQ+ respondents.

The new research goes on to reveal:

  • Almost one in five (18%) respondents would disagree that ‘making it known that you don’t like people of a particular race’ would be classed as harassment. When asked if this was discrimination, 15% of male respondents still disagreed
  • One in six (17%) male respondents disagreed that ‘having sex with your partner when they don’t really seem into it, but they haven’t explicitly said ‘no’ would be classed as harassment
  • Female respondents were 16% more likely to agree than male respondents that ‘flirting with another person by smacking their bum when they’re speaking to their friends’ would be classed as harassment.

“It’s clear there’s a huge gap in knowledge when it comes to understanding what harassment is and behaving respectfully towards peers amongst quite a number of FE students. With so many people not being able define the terms, more needs to be done to educate students and disrupt the normalisation of this unacceptable behaviour.

“However, it’s important to remember that education shouldn’t just be for the purpose of informing students on what is wrong, it should be to shift the culture towards one where students feel confident in speaking up whenever they’re made to feel uncomfortable or unsafe. For this reason, educational institutions need to take the time to truly understand what the problems are in their school or college when it comes to problematic behaviour and recognise what their students expect of them when it comes to being able to report such behaviours,” concludes Gemma.

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