School slammed for telling girls as young as 4 to wear ‘modesty shorts’ under skirts
Talking about the problematic rule, a parent said, 'It suggests their pants and what they wear are a problem'
A UK school has been accused of body-shaming after it suggested parents of girls as young as four to buy them ‘modesty shorts’ so that they can wear them under their skirts. The Dell Primary School in Chepstow, Monmouthshire in Wales, has been slammed by parents after it recommended that the shorts will help the girls in covering their underwear while they do a cartwheel or handstand.
A headteacher of the school identified as Steve King said in an email, which was posted on Facebook, said, “While we do not want to give children messages that they are responsible for the actions of others, we cannot stand by while children’s actions may attract inappropriate attention from members of the public.” But one furious parent retaliated and said, “It is shocking that girls as young as four are being asked to cover up. It suggests their pants and what they wear are a problem.”
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However, National Police Chiefs Council child protection lead Simon Bailey reportedly sided with the school’s decision. He stated, “If a school wants children to wear modesty shorts so that they feel confident, I am supportive,” before adding, “My view is that anything that can be done to ensure young girls feel more secure has got to be good news, even modesty shorts, but the culture in schools has got to change at the same time. My view is that anything that can be done to ensure young girls feel more secure has got to be good news, even modesty shorts, but the culture in schools has got to change at the same time.”
More recently, the issue has grabbed national attention as more schools have started asking their students to wear shorts under their uniforms to stop upskirting. The Commons Education Committee has asked for clarification from the schools’ watchdog -- The Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) -- after a report claimed that around nine out of ten school-going girls had received unwanted offensive photos or called sexist names. Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman has said that schools should work towards an environment to make girls feel comfortable without “victim blaming.”
When Tory MP Tom Hunt asked, “Teachers have been reported as telling girls to wear shorts under their skirts to prevent boys upskirting. How confident are you that current safeguarding inspection frameworks are appropriate to affect this type of misogyny in schools?” Spielman responded by saying, “I think it's really important that we don't slide into a sort of national culture that is essentially victim blaming. In a primary school I would very much hope that we can find solutions in addressing any cultural problems that could be making girls feel uncomfortable doing normal things that every child should be doing in the playground - doing somersaults or cartwheels or what have you.” While Hunt noted: “I think it's very concerning that that sort of question would be asked and that kind of does verge on victim blaming from what I can see.”
Spielman also mentioned how upskirting and sexual harassment have been normalized as most young people take it like “whack a mole”. She stated that most girls she talked to “laugh that off and think it's contemptible.” “They would not want to be pulled into safeguarding procedures by reason of being sent a photograph that they think is simply contemptible. In sexual misconduct of every kind, there is a spectrum from the truly evil and appalling at one extreme, all the way down to things which are essentially clumsy explorations of emerging adolescent sexuality,” the Ofsted chief inspector added.