Online Abuse Unreported As Teachers Unsure How To Tackle Issue, MSPs Told

Cases of online bullying including the circulation of footage of sexual assault are going unreported in schools as teachers lack the knowledge to deal with the problem, MSPs have heard.

Youth advocates from Girlguiding Scotland have called for more guidance to ensure teachers are better equipped to deal with the sexual harassment faced by young women online.

Holyrood's Equalities and Human Rights Committee heard evidence of teachers "turning a blind eye'' to online bullying and being ill-prepared to deal with it.

Susie McGuiness, a youth advocate with Girlguiding Scotland, said: "Something we've seen a lot and young people have spoken about a lot is things being put on Snapchat and that going around schools, so really young girls having nudes taken and leaked and it's something that's quite shocking to a lot of adults but it's something that's very widespread in school and it goes under the radar because it's something that's not happening in a classroom so teachers aren't sure if they're allowed to deal with it, what steps they should be taking and whether the police should be involved with that.

"Obviously that's a really upsetting thing for girls to be dealing with in school and we'd like to see teachers knowing how to deal with that.

"We know of instances where there have been girls who've been filmed being assaulted, non-consensual footage of rape going around schools, and that not being reported or dealt with because it's a frightening thing.

"It's so large that teachers don't know who to go to and they don't know how to deal with that so often it does just go unreported and when it does get reported it can often make it worse because it's not being dealt with appropriately because they don't know the steps they can take.''

Fellow youth advocate Hannah Brisbane added: ``With the online realm, sometimes teachers will just think that's not my problem it's not happening behind the school gates and they find it quite easy to kind of turn a blind eye to that because they feel that's not within their realm to deal with a lot of the time when it clearly is still affecting these pupils and these issues still need to be brought forward and taken seriously.''

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