Schools Safe 4 Girls

Schools Safe 4 Girls

In Oct 2012 EVAW launched its Schools Safe 4 Girls campaign just as the revelations about Jimmy Savile’s serial sexual abuse of women and girls were breaking. The campaign, funded by Comic Relief, aimed to empower parents, students and local women’s groups to encourage their local schools to take action to prevent all forms of violence against women and girls, including through Sex and Relationships Education.

Schools Safe 4 Girls campaign successes:

  • It was followed swiftly by the announcement by Shadow Women’s Minister, Yvette Cooper MP, that Labour will make SRE compulsory to tackle violence against women and girls (VAWG).
  • It has been regularly covered by the media, including on Woman’s Hour in a discussion between Yvette Cooper MP and EVAW Director Holly Dustin.
  • Over 800 campaign packs have been disseminated to activists, students, parents and women’s groups including at the UK Feminista Lobby of Parliament in October 2012.
  • It has been praised numerous times in Parliament by MPs from different parties.
  • It was featured as Mumsnet’s ‘Campaign of the Week’ in October 2012

Next step of the campaign – launch of Deeds or Words?

The next stage of this campaign is a new report, Deeds or Words? published in May 2013 which assesses action to fulfill the Westminster Government’s promise to take action to prevent abuse before it begins (primary prevention) in the Home Office-led Call to end violence against women and girls.

Deeds or Words? was published at a time when we are witnessing further highly disturbing cases of abuse of women and girls including Stuart Hall, the murders of Tia Sharp and April Jones and the Oxford sexual exploitation case. As the Director of Public Prosecutions says, this is a ‘watershed moment’ for our understanding of sexual abuse and other VAWG. We must take action to prevent abuse before it begins, rather than just shrug our shoulders and assume that it is a fact of life.

Key findings:

Our experts found that there are some good initiatives, such as the Home Office’s teen abuse campaign ThisisABUSE, and leadership shown by some Ministers. However, overall we found that work to prevent VAWG was minimal, under-resourced and that the key department responsible for children’s safety, the Department for Education, was not playing its part. In addition, that:

  • despite concerns about use of porn and sexual offending by boys and young men, there is no obligation for schools to teach young people about sexual consent and respectful relationships;
  • ThisisABUSE was sidelined by the Department for Education meaning that many schools were not aware that students may be seeking help after seeing the campaign online and on TV;
  • whilst the government has announced  a programme of work to prevent violence against women and girls overseas, there is no equivalent programme of work in the UK;
  • there is little political leadership on these issues in the Department for Education or the Department for Culture Media and Sport - the Department for Education’s expert group on violence against women and girls has been disbanded;
  • abuse of women and girls is mostly absent from policy development on press regulation, social media and technology.

Poll on public attitudes to Sex and Relationships Education

The report is being launched at the same time as a YouGov poll showing high levels of public support for compulsory SRE in order to tackle abuse.

Our recommendations

We have written an Open Letter to the Prime Minister, David Cameron, calling on him to be aspirational in seeking a world where women and girls are safe and equal. We want the Government to work with experts in the women’s sector to develop a Programme of Work to Prevent VAWG which includes:

  • Make long term investment in public campaigns to change harmful attitudes and behaviours, learning from the THINK! road safety campaign
  • Ensure that every child learns about sexual consent and respectful and equal relationships, preferably through making Sex and Relationships Education compulsory.
  • Tackle misogynistic images of women in the media that condones abuse, including banning images of rape porn.
  • Ensure that there is long term investment at both national and local level in specialist support for women and girls who experience abuse, either recently or in the past.

What you can do

Tell the PM - Write to the Prime Minister using our template letter, or better still your own tailored letter. Ask him to take urgent action to prevent abuse of women and girls before it begins, for example by putting in place a comprehensive Programme of Work to Prevent VAWG and ensuring that all children have the information and support they need.

Blog/write about this issue - Raise awareness of this issue any way you can, including through blogging and articles. There is a great deal written about abuse of women and girls but the gendered nature of these offences often gets lost in discussions about race, class or welfare reform.

Twitter -We will be tweeting about the poll and the report using the ongoing campaign hashtag #schoolssafe4girl

Schools Safe 4 Girls campaign

We are calling for schools, parents, students and the government to work together to ensure that girls are safe and that work is done to tackle harmful attitudes.

  • We are asking parents, students and women's groups to write to their school to ask them what they are doing to address these issues
  • We want the Government to make it compulsory for schools to address these issues by making Sex and Relationships Education statutory.    

Download our Schools Safe 4 Girls campaign pack here:


Introduction to the campaign:

Action postcard

Campaign Briefing


Template letters:

Template letter to schools asking them to take action

Template letter to MPs

Template letter to local authorities

Template letter to local newspaper


Factsheets and more background information:

Questionnaire for schools

Findings of a YouGov poll on sexual harassment in UK schools

Factsheet about VAWG prevention

Factsheet about the Public Sector Equality Duty

Factsheet about the Human Rights Act


Or email us for a hard copy of the campaign pack and we will post it to you:


Blog, write, tweet, facebook about issues of concern. Join the debate!


Read Holly Dustin's article on Comment is Free about the importance of Sex and Relationships Education. Hear Holly discuss these issues on Woman's Hour with Yvette Cooper, Shadow Women's Minister.