Lost in legislation: peer sexual intimidation in secondary schools. A comparative study of France and the Netherlands
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Sexual intimidation between peers at secondary schools can have serious psychological effects on those targeted. Nevertheless, it is a severely underestimated phenomenon worldwide. This thesis, through a case study of France and the Netherlands, examines the lack of protection for children against sexual intimidation at school. It describes how this problem is excluded from French and Dutch legal frameworks and the failure to address it formally in the international human rights environment. Through an investigation of the legal frameworks, school policies and cultural challenges relating to this problem, this thesis maps out the black hole in which peer sexual intimidation disappears from the public eye. It does so by describing the structural neglect of the problem by school management, legal authorities and executive committees responsible for the implementation of international human rights conventions, as well as culturally embedded misconceptions about gender roles that may lead to the general downplaying or even acceptance of this form of sexual intimidation. There will also be a description of the problematic lack of action by schools and officials, which results in the tolerance of frequent violence on school premises. The tolerance of this phenomenon, which seems to target girls predominantly, leads to the violation of the right of girls to equal education, and a failure by the Dutch and French school systems to protect victims. Keywords: sexual intimidation, peer sexual intimidation, sexual abuse, sexual violence, adolescents, school, right to education, gender equality, school responsibility, underreported, policy gap.