Tackling gender-based violence

Supporting schools to play their part.

A dedicated approach to prevent and respond to gender-based violence (GBV) in schools has been published.

Developed by a working group co-chaired by the Scottish Government, Rape Crisis Scotland and Zero Tolerance, the framework encompasses testimony from young people and staff and sets out how schools can use education, with an emphasis on compassion, to challenge societal views which normalise gender-based violence.

It aims to support schools by:

  • demonstrating the different ways GBV can affect young people in a school community and highlighting how schools can challenge the underlying gender inequalities which can cause it
  • providing guidance to support schools’ responses to GBV experienced, or carried out by, children and young people or other members of the school community, including staff
  • outlining the approach schools should take to recording GBV behaviours and signposting to further support and learning

GBV refers to behaviours ranging from name calling, intimidation and physical violence to sexual harassment and emotional abuse, which can affect anyone, but is more commonly experienced by women and girls.

The Behaviour in Scottish Schools Research report, published last year, highlighted an increase in misogynistic views and language as an emerging concern in schools which the Education Secretary committed to developing a dedicated approach to address, as part of the government’s wider response to challenges with behaviour in schools.

First Minister Humza Yousaf and Education Secretary Jenny Gilruth launched the framework on a visit to Moffat Academy, where they heard about a pupil-led approach to promoting gender equality.

The First Minister said:

“We want schools to create cultures in which all members of the school community know that gender-based violence is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Prevention and early intervention are key to the approach to address the underlying causes of gender-based violence, particularly gender inequality.

“This framework forms part of our broader action to address the issue of gender equality within education as part of the implementation of our Equally Safe Strategy and broader commitment to eradicate gender-based violence in every part of our society.

“All children and young people have a right to a learning environment where they are protected, cared for, and in which their rights and needs are respected. It is vital that schools are at the part of our drive to support the end of gender-based violence and misogyny once and for all – it is up to us to show the leadership necessary to empower them to do so.”

Education Secretary Jenny Gilruth said:

“The wellbeing and safety of children, young people and staff in our schools is of the utmost importance. Ensuring that every child is treated with respect and feels safe at school is a task I do not take lightly.

“We’ve taken great strides in recent years to tackle gender-based violence across society and it’s concerning that misogynistic views and language have appeared as emerging issue in recent research into behaviour in schools. There is no place for harassment or abuse in any form in our schools and this framework aims to provide support for everyone in a school community to recognise it as it occurs and be equipped to respond appropriately.

“It is not only for schools to respond to incidents of gender-based violence amongst our young people. Prevention and early intervention are key elements of our approach – meaning that we want to address the underlying causes of gender-based violence, particularly gender inequality, and the framework published today supports this endeavour.”

Morgan Todd, Moffat Academy S6 Student and Prefect Leader said:

"As a young woman I would hate to feel there were any limits placed on my aspirations or on those of any girl at Moffat Academy. Gender equality is about living in a fair society where everyone is valued for their talents rather than judged by their gender. At Moffat Academy, I feel everyone gets the chance to write their own story- no matter their background or gender- helping to prepare us for life after school in modern Scotland."

Director of Prevention & Training at Rape Crisis Scotland Kathryn Dawson said:

“The launch of the first ever national approach to gender-based violence for schools is a major step. We, and partner organisations, advocated for guidance to be developed following the Everyday Heroes consultation with children and young people that recommended decisive action.

“Rape Crisis Scotland and member centres are the experts delivering education to young people through the Sexual Violence Prevention Programme, and supporting schools through the Equally Safe at School programme. The guidance will enable schools to build on our work and prioritise gender-based violence, honouring the courageous voices of the children and young people who called for change.”

Co-Director at Zero Tolerance Laura Tomson said:

“We’re proud to have been closely involved in the development of the Gender Based Violence in Schools Framework. The guidance is a vital step towards preventing and responding to boys' sexual harassment, rape, and abuse of girls, which is all too common. We now look to the Scottish Government to demonstrate its commitment to ending boys’ violence against girls by resourcing the guidance’s implementation so both teachers and children can focus on learning.”


Preventing and responding to Gender Based Violence: a whole school framework - gov.scot (www.gov.scot)

Behaviour in Scottish schools: research report 2023 - gov.scot (www.gov.scot) 

Health and wellbeing in schools - Schools - gov.scot (www.gov.scot)

In November, the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills set out a five step plan to address concerns around behaviour in schools, which included developing a dedicated approach to responding to issues surrounding misogyny.


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