Sexual harassment and gender-based harassment at educational institutions
Right to a safe learning and studying environment
Every student has the right to a safe school and a studying environment in which they do not have to fear being harassed. It is important that students who are victims of harassment or have observed harassment can identify it, know who to turn to, and be sure that there will be an appropriate response.
The school or educational institution has the duty to intervene in cases of harassment
The Equality Act prohibits sexual and gender-based harassment in educational institutions. However, the responsibility of the educational institution or other community only begins in an individual case of harassment when a responsible representative of the institution has been informed of the harassment. Thereafter, the educational institution or community has a duty to undertake measures to eliminate the harassment.
The educational institution is guilty of discrimination prohibited by the Equality Act if they do not take the steps available to prevent the harassment from continuing. If the perpetrator is, for example, the headmaster of the educational institution or a person in a corresponding position, who is in charge of leading the community offering education and training, it will be considered that the harassment was known to the educational institution or community without a separate notification.
The educational institution or community will also be liable for compensation if the perpetrator is an individual teacher or student.
Schools and educational institutions also have the duty to prevent harassment
The development-oriented and planned equality-promoting work being carried out at schools and educational institutions must also pay special attention to preventing and eliminating sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination.
It is recommended that schools and educational institutions have clear guidelines on sexual harassment and gender-based harassment that explain what harassment is, what victims of harassment or people who have observed harassment can do, who they can turn to and how the staff of the school or educational institution must act in such a situation.
Harassment is never the victim's fault
Victims of harassment often feel guilty and ashamed. However, it is important to remember that harassment is never the victim's fault.
Prevention of and intervention in sexual harassments at schools and educational institutions – Summary, Finnish National Agency for Education, 2018 (PDF)