• School rules of (sexual) engagement: government, staff and student contributions to the norms of peer sexual-abuse in seven UK schools

      Firmin, Carlene Emma (Taylor and Francis, 2019-05-13)
      Peer-sexual abuse in educational settings is a matter of international concern – featured in mainstream news reports, televised through drama series and documented in research. In 2018 the UK government revised and published a series of policy documents to assist schools in addressing the phenomenon. This paper considers the sufficiency of this policy framework through social field analysis of focus groups with staff and students at seven educational establishments in England that ran from 2015-2017. Analysis reveals four avenues through which staff and students created or reinforced norms the underpinned harmful sexual behaviours and in doing so created contexts conducive with peer-sexual abuse. While policy developments have made initial acknowledgements of school cultures as associated to peer-sexual abuse, significant progress is required if policy is to provide a framework that challenges, rather than reinforces, individualised – and on occasion victim-blaming – narratives of peer-sexual abuse.