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NASUWT – The Teachers’ Union is today demanding funding and implementation of training programmes to allow school and college staff to teach and promote approaches to tackle the issues of sexual harassment and violence against women and girls.

The Union is calling for the Active Bystander Approach to be implemented across schools and colleges in Northern Ireland.
Schools and colleges should be places of safety and must be supported in tackling the problem of sexual harassment or violence towards students or staff, the NASUWT Northern Ireland Annual Conference will hear.

A motion to be debated at the conference in Belfast will condemn the “alarming rates of violence against women and girls (VAWG) across these islands, and the detrimental impact of VAWG on the mental, emotional, and physical well-being of individuals, leading to long-lasting consequences”.

The ‘Active Bystander Approach’ is a vital strategy that empowers individuals to actively intervene in situations where they witness or suspect potential harm, thus creating a collective responsibility to prevent and address violence.

The motion goes on to say that research show that the Active Bystander Approach develops:

  • an increased awareness of gender-based violence and knowledge of what is acceptable behaviour;
  • increased confidence in intervening and confidence that their peers would also intervene;
  • improved knowledge of how to intervene calmly, without violence.
Members are expected to back calls for the development, funding and implementation of training programmes for educators, equipping them with the skills and knowledge to effectively teach and promote the Active Bystander Approach.

NASUWT General Secretary Dr Patrick Roach said: “Sexual harassment, violence and abuse against women and girls is increasing.

“Women and girls have a right to be afforded safety, security and respect at all times.

“We need greater transparency and, crucially, a climate that encourages unacceptable behaviours to be reported in the confidence that action will be taken.

“There are initiatives taking place in schools, colleges and elsewhere but more needs to be done, there needs to be more and targeted funding and training and awareness of the Active Bystander Approach needs to be broadened.”

Justin McCamphill, NASUWT National Official Northern Ireland, said: “Sexual harassment and sexist abuse towards both female teachers and pupils in schools and colleges is becoming more common.

“Incidents of violence are on the rise also and more needs to be done to tackle what is a violation of the human rights of women and girls.

“We need to proactively tackle the issue of violence against women and girls through the development of Active Bystander Approach training across our schools and colleges in order to foster a safer and more respectful society for all.”


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