Teenage pupil alleges sexual assault and racism at high school

Open letter says harassment and discrimination is 'rife' at Crieff High School.

Teenage pupil alleges sexual assault and racism at high school Google Maps

A schoolgirl has made allegations of widespread sexual assault, harassment and racism at her high school.

Anna De Garis, a 16-year-old fifth-year pupil at Crieff High School in Perthshire, said she had personally experienced sexual assault and bullying – and had witnessed far more.

In an open letter to the school, MPs, MSPs, Perth and Kinross Council and the Scottish Government, Anna said: “During my time at Crieff High School I have personally experienced sexual assault, regular sexual harassment and frequent racist abuse.

A hallway in Crieff High School, Perthshire.Perth and Kinross Council

“It’s clear to me that racism, sexism, sexual assault and harassment, homophobia and transphobia are all rife, and through the school’s inaction, are also being normalised for many.

“The school has been made aware of this by many pupils over the years, but I’m not sure parents and the wider community are aware of how bad things are.”

More than 100 answered survey

The 16-year-old created a survey, asking her peers about their experiences of discrimination at Crieff High School.

There are around 600 children at the school, with just under 15% of pupils responding within 24 hours, she said.

“I received well over 100 written responses from students,” Anna said. “These are important and powerful testimonies and were very upsetting to read.”

Among the allegations of abuse are claims of racial-epithets being used casually, anti-semitism and Holocaust denial, homophobic and transphobic slurs regularly directed at LGBTQ+ students, and misogynistic behaviour.

Crieff High School in Perthshire.Perth and Kinross Council

Responses to the survey claim male teachers had made sexist jokes and that schoolgirls were sexually assaulted by other pupils.

More than a third of those that responded said they had experienced sexual harassment or assault, and more than 70% had witnessed racism, homophobia or sexism.

Anna and her mother met with the school’s headteacher on Friday.

Perth and Kinross Council said Anna’s letter was “extremely powerful” and the allegations were being taken “extremely seriously”.

A spokesperson said: “Perth and Kinross Council is committed to providing a safe and secure learning environment for all our children and young people.

“Assault, bullying, harassment or discrimination of any kind is not tolerated in any of our schools. We take all allegations of these incidents extremely seriously.

“Anna has written an extremely powerful letter to staff. She and her mother met the school’s headteacher on Friday regarding Anna’s concerns and they have been invited back to discuss them in more detail today.

“We have an anti-bullying strategy in Perth and Kinross that is underpinned by each school’s own individual policies setting out how they will deal with incidents of bullying.

“We would always encourage children, young people and their parents or carers to report any incidents of bullying so appropriate action can be taken.”

Police Scotland said it had not received any reports of incidents such as those detailed in the survey.

A spokesperson for the force said: “However, we would encourage anyone who believes they have witnessed or been the victim of any criminal behaviour to report this to police.

“Hate crime in any form is unacceptable and we will thoroughly investigate any offences reported to us.

“We work closely in partnership with the school and local authority and will provide any support necessary to address the issues raised.”

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code