SCARF and developing behaviours to help me to prevent misogyny, toxic masculinity, and harmful social media influence in school
The UK government recognises how important PSHE is in providing prevention education, as well as a whole-school approach to tackling harmful attitudes and behaviours, as set out in the DfE's 2022 edition of Keeping Children Safe in Education document:
"Schools and colleges play a crucial role in preventative education. Preventative education is most effective in the context of a whole-school approach that prepares pupils and students for life in modern Britain and creates a culture of zero tolerance for sexism, misogyny/misandry, homophobia, biphobic and sexual violence/harassment."
As part of statutory relationships and health education, pupils must be taught about online safety and harms, including:
- The rules and principles for keeping safe online, how to recognise risks, harmful content and contact, and how to report them
- How to critically consider their online friendships and sources of information including awareness of the risks associated with people they have never met
- How information and data is shared and used online
- About the benefits of rationing time spent online, the risks of excessive time spent on electronic devices and the impact of positive and negative content online on their own and others’ mental and physical wellbeing
- How to be a discerning consumer of information online including understanding that information, including that from search engines, is ranked, selected and targeted.
These requirements thread through our lessons and help teachers to support children to evaluate what they see online, helping them to make judgements and not automatically assume what they see is true, valid or acceptable. This will enable children to critically analyse what and whom they see online, why they are creating the content they are and who is benefitting.
In addition, many of the requirements under Relationships Education help to prevent the development of unhealthy thoughts and behaviour, specifically:
- The importance of respecting others, even when they are very different from them (for example, physically, in character, personality or background), make different choices or have different preferences or beliefs
- That in school and in wider society they can expect to be treated with respect by others, and that in turn, they should show due respect to others, including those in positions of authority
- Learning about what a stereotype is, and how stereotypes can be unfair, negative or destructive.
This work is complemented with lessons considering healthy relationships, aspirations, (including positive role models), self-esteem, stereotyping, and bullying, both on and offline to ensure a holistic approach to tackling misogyny and toxic masculinity; providing children with time to explore respectful, healthy relationships and what they look like.
Teaching and learning about misogyny, toxic masculinity, and social media influence is therefore fully integrated into SCARF, through age-appropriate content across its spiral curriculum. Whilst terms such as misogyny and toxic masculinity won't appear in lesson plans, the principles that underlie the prevention of these behaviours are included in the lessons. These can be within the subjects and issues listed below: