The law needs to intervene if men can’t stop themselves from chatting up schoolgirls

OF all the terrifying headlines lately, the most shocking is that one in three girls in the UK has been sexually harassed in public while wearing school uniform.

The figures come from a report by children’s charity Plan International UK, which also found two-thirds of girls say they have experienced unwanted sexual attention in public.

Girls should be able to travel to and from school without the fear of being chatted up by older men
Getty – Contributor

A third of girls have been touched, groped or grabbed by men they don’t know. This kind of thing is so commonplace that many — some as young as eight — feel street harassment is “part of growing up”. How awful is that? Partly, the problem is that somewhere along the line, the idea that schoolgirls are “sexy” has become normalised, acceptable, even mainstream.

Yes, I know that the waters were somewhat muddied by the likes of Britney Spears in her Baby One More Time video and Gemma Arterton in her St Trinian’s films — both looking as sexy as heck in school uniform.  And yes, I know a lot of girls look older than they are, and might even try to do so by wearing make-up, smoking or shortening their skirts on the way to and from school.

But let’s be really clear about this. — girls young enough to wear school uniform are children. And the idea of any man thinking it’s OK to wolf-whistle, chat up or give any kind of sexual attention to a girl in a uniform is not just seriously worrying. It should be a criminal offence.

By the way, I wonder what a similar survey of boys would find. Because the thought of women wolf-whistling schoolboys in the street is unimaginable, right? Parents of ­secondary school children need to give them some freedom to help them on the path to adulthood.

All too often, our response to such news is to try to protect girls by telling them not to look too ­provocative

Often, that involves letting them walk unaccompanied to school.  But the idea that doing that is exposing their child to the possibility of sexual harassment will be pretty distressing to any parent.

One of the saddest things about this report is how many of the girls interviewed thought this kind of behaviour is “normal”. One 18-year-old said she felt street harassment was part of the “bro culture” and her dad had told her: “You know what men are like.”  What kind of advice is that for your daughter?

Another girl, aged 17, said: “It’s just become normal.” But the net result of behaviour like this is that it makes girls scared of walking the streets.

All too often, our response to such news is to try to protect girls by telling them not to look too ­provocative. But that just perpetuates the idea men “can’t help themselves” so it’s down to the girls, and the way they dress, to make sure they are left alone.

Any man who leers at young girl in a uniform is nothing short of ­disturbed (posed by models)

You can’t blame girls or women for men’s behaviour, no matter what the length of their skirt. But the difficult truth is that we know women do have to ­modify their behaviour, and the way they dress, to stop men from ­commenting on their appearance, harassing them or worse.

Perhaps what I am most shocked about is the young age at which this starts. One good thing is that these days, girls at secondary school have phones. They can record things that happen to them and report it. Also, Plan International UK is calling on bystanders to challenge harassment when they see it.

Certainly, if I was around someone wolf-whistling schoolgirls, I’d flip my lid. I would not be too scared to speak my mind and verbally intervene. I think my opening ­gambit would be: “How would you feel if that were your sister, ­granddaughter or daughter some old git was harassing?”

To any man reading this who thinks it’s OK to talk to schoolgirls like this, let me tell you some of these girls are terrified. It’s not funny or cute. It’s threatening. Lots of teen girls look older than they are but if you are confused and in doubt, here is a clue: The school uniform is a giveaway.

Any man who leers at a child in a uniform is nothing short of ­disturbed. And if they can’t stop themselves from doing so, the law needs to intervene.

Rachel’s top bod

AS you know, I’m a huge advocate of body acceptance and self-love but I confess to a moment of envy at model Rachel McCord’s fantastic figure.

Rachel looks absolutely fantastic in this latest snap
Splash News

Yes, clearly she must spend most of each day at the gym . . . But you have to give credit where credit is due. And she looks amazing!

(Don’t get me wrong, I could look like that too. I just like cake too much.)

Crazy promise

ANOTHER day, another crazy promise from Labour. This time it was Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell saying a Labour government would bring in a four-day working week.

This, as Treasury analysis shows, means Labour would have to borrow £1trillion to bankroll its spending spree over the next ten years – the equivalent of £35,000 for every UK household.


Frankly, if the Labour Party gets into power, it will end up being a zero-day week as business will collapse and there will be no jobs to go to.


The simple fact is you can’t run a country or a business on a four-day week.

Chris put ‘loon’ in balloon

I LOVE a good party as much as the next person.

Baby gender reveal parties are becoming more popular

But I can’t be the only person who rolled my eyes at the claim that Coldplay frontman Chris Martin and actress Dakota Johnson hosted a “baby gender reveal party” on Sunday.

Apparently, large arches of pink and blue balloons were spotted flying above a star- studded bash at Martin’s Malibu home. Moments later, blue balloons were freed into the air, presumably announcing a baby boy is on the way.

The couple claim it was just her birthday party but the singer did help introduce us to the term “conscious uncoupling”. Stand by for this being a new thing . . .

Religion can be a negative power

IT was heartbreaking to read about the teen in India who was found tied to a tree, having been beaten up by members of her Muslim family.

She was being “punished” for running away with her Hindu boyfriend.

Police were reportedly called to the scene but did not make any arrests – which beggars belief, doesn’t it?

Stories like this are a reminder that religion can be a negative power as well as a positive.

Sir is no dope on drugs

I COULDN’T agree more with Sir Anthony Seldon, above, Buckingham University’s vice-chancellor, who wants the uni to adopt an actively anti-drugs stance.

Sir Anthony Seldon has made a great decision
Getty – Contributor

My son is at Buckingham uni and they already have sniffer dogs all around campus, randomly checking students. Sir Anthony says he wants to create a “psychological contract” between students and the university so undergraduates implicitly agree to shun drugs when they enrol, which I think is a brilliant idea.

His approach is the opposite to Sheffield University, where the student union gave advice on how to take various hard drugs safely. But the fact is drugs aren’t safe and they ruin lives.  Barely a week goes by without another drug death appearing in the news.

Some might say a drug-free campus is unrealistic. And sure, you probably can’t stop everyone taking them.  Nor can you prevent people wanting to experiment.  But making young people really aware that drugs are not only dangerous but illegal can only be a good thing.
And making it harder for people to access drugs, having signed a contract, will force them into a conscious decision to break that contract, which will surely make them think twice. All I can say is bravo to Sir Anthony.

Oh man, stop it

A WRITER called Kamin Mohammadi had an Instagram rant about “manspreading” this week. And yes, I know this happens. But I think we’ve got to get better at politely asking people to just stop it.

Forget gender for a moment. I think it comes down to respect: It’s just blatantly rude to invade someone else’s space and the answer, in my view, is to call the person out.  If someone’s arm is on my arm rest on a train or plane, I ask them – in the nicest possible way – to move it.

Let’s not be embarrassed when it’s someone’s legs.

My personal bugbear is backpacks. I called a man out for keeping his on while on a crowded Tube train this week and he was really apologetic.


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