How to encourage the reporting of sexism and sexual harassment

Start building a culture where all pupils feel comfortable raising concerns about sexism and sexual harassment. Encourage pupils and staff to call out unacceptable behaviour and explain what you mean by a 'zero-tolerance' approach.

Last reviewed on 13 June 2023
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School types: All · School phases: All
Ref: 43064
  1. Key barriers to reporting
  2. Importance of reporting 'lower level' incidents
  3. Call out unacceptable behaviour
  4. Model appropriate behaviour and language to create a culture of respect
  5. Be clear on what 'zero-tolerance' means in practice 
  6. Clearly communicate your reporting procedures
  7. Reassure pupils they'll be fully supported
  8. Use our posters to help encourage reporting

Key barriers to reporting

Ofsted's review of sexual abuse in schools found a number of reasons why pupils weren't reporting experiences of sexism and sexual harassment. These reasons include how pupils:

  • Don't see the point in reporting 'lower level' incidents because they're commonplace 
  • Are worried the next steps would be out of their control
  • Think they wouldn't be believed or that they’d be blamed, so don't feel confident asking for support 
  • Are concerned they'd be ostracised by their peers or branded a 'snitch' for getting someone into trouble

For further details on the findings of the review, take a look at our summary article.

Below you'll find guidance on the steps you can take to break down these barriers to reporting, creating a culture where all pupils feel comfortable raising any concerns. 

To encourage pupils to report 'lower level' incidents, such as sexist name-calling or being sent unwanted explicit pictures or videos,