More than a third of girls in school uniform have been sexually harassed in public, a new report has found.
The survey found that 35% of girls have received unwanted sexual attention or contact including being groped, stared at, catcalled and wolf-whistled while wearing their school uniform in public.
Two-thirds of girls say they have experienced unwanted sexual attention in public, the figures from Plan International UK have revealed.
The charity is calling on the government, local authorities and police to recognise street harassment as a form of violence against women and girls.
The poll of 1,004 girls aged 14-21 also found that one in seven girls had been followed while in uniform, while 8% said they had been filmed or photographed by a stranger without their permission, or someone had taken a photograph up their school skirt.
Some 37% of the girls questioned said they had been been sexually harassed while travelling to or from school.
One in eight girls reported being 12 years old or younger when she first experienced unwanted sexual attention.
Sixteen-year-old Jess, from Glasgow, said, “When I was 15, I was in school uniform and sat on a train and this guy kept trying to put his hand on my leg.
“I was like, ‘What am I supposed to do?’ I ended up getting off the train at the next stop and just being completely lost.”
She added: “It was such a horrible experience. I was going to see my biology tutor and I arrived at the library in tears, I was really upset about it.
“I think the worst part was feeling guilty because I was wearing a skirt, which is stupid because it shouldn’t matter what I was wearing, but in the moment it did.”
The survey also found that members of the public do not often intervene if girls are being harassed. Only 20% of girls said someone had responded in a way they found helpful.
The findings come as Plan International UK launches a new campaign into the impact of street harassment on girls and women in the UK.
Tanya Barron, chief executive at Plan International UK, said, “It is shocking and deeply concerning that girls, many of whom are clearly of school age because they are in uniform, are being targeted and sexually harassed by perpetrators in the street.
“It’s simply not acceptable that girls as young as 12 are being wolf-whistled at in public, touched against their will, stared at or even followed. This disgraceful behaviour needs to be called out and stopped.”