Typically, schools respond to a crisis by checking that their policies and procedures are all in place.
With the Everyone’s Invited movement, this look likes the following:
- Educating students and staff with a clear understanding of what sexual violence and harassment are. Develop an effective sex and relationship education (SRE) programme and a personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) programme. Subjects should include: What healthy and respectful relationships are, what respectful behaviour looks like, what consent is, how to keep safe online.
- Promoting a whole school ethos. To create an environment where sexual violence and harassment aren’t tolerated, your school should: Challenge incidents of a sexual nature, not normalising them – respond to incidents in ways that are effective, proportionate – a bystander intervention programme can help to enforce this message while helping students to support each other.
- Have clear policies and procedures regarding sexual violence and harassment and peer-on-peer abuse that are reflected throughout your school safeguarding practice.
- Have clear procedures for responding to suspected peer-on-peer abuse.
All good advice. But what’s missing?
1. Teaching students the ‘habit of conscious ownership’: individuals taking 100% responsibility for their own actions and the consequences, students and staff taking 100% responsibility for the school culture.
2. Being a ‘courageous learner’ means being willing to look at the facts as they are, not as one would like them to be. It means not judging oneself harshly but adopting an attitude of coaching oneself with the same compassion one shows to others. Finally, it means embracing the principle that the only person in the world you can change is yourself: take responsibility for that, and let others decide if they want to change themselves.
3. Power of conscious thinking: in discussing difficult issues like sexual harassment and violence people think reactively; they respond to events by being defensive, rigid, and not really listening, by focusing on proving themselves right – they are ‘below the line’ in their thinking. ‘Conscious thinking’ means being ‘above the line’: open-minded, curious, willing to listen and to learn. You can tell when people are above the line by their behaviours: they share information and thoughts; they share feelings; they listen and collaborate; they reflect, consider and change; they are creative.
4. ‘Leading yourself’ means making conscious choices about your own behaviour and your own thoughts and taking total responsibility for these. Students and staff can own the current situation, find solutions to problems, and proactively make change happen.
5. Good relationships with others are essential to happiness. This finding has been affirmed by numerous studies worldwide. This is hardly surprising. What is surprising, given the importance of having successful relationships, is that we do not teach young people how to do this.
Jonnie shared his thoughts at our event ‘Beyond Everyone’s Invited: 3 critical factors for creating genuine change’ in October 2021. Missed it? Catch up with the recording.