HUMZA Yousaf has launched a framework to tackle the “increasingly concerning” issue of gender-based violence in Scotland’s schools.

The First Minister launched the gender-based violence strategy alongside Education Secretary Jenny Gilruth during a visit to Moffat Academy in Dumfries and Galloway on Monday.

A round-table discussion was also held with pupils who have been working to promote gender equality across the region.

The framework, developed by a working group co-chaired by the Scottish Government, Rape Crisis Scotland and Zero Tolerance, uses pupil testimonies to challenge societal views which normalise violence against women and girls.

It provides guidance to schools on how to respond to gender-based violence carried out by children and other members of the school community.

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Gender-based violence refers to behaviours such as name-calling, intimidation, physical violence, sexual harassment and emotional abuse.

It followed a Behaviour in Scottish Schools report which highlighted an increase in misogynistic views as an emerging concern in the classroom.

Speaking at Moffat Academy, Yousaf said: “We know gender-based violence and violence in schools more generally is an increasingly concerning problem for schools right up and down the country.”

He said he hoped the framework would help “achieve a country where everybody is loved and respected regardless of their gender or gender identity”.

“We want to try and intervene as early as we possibly can, hence why we’re here at school level speaking to young people.”

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During the pupil roundtable, Yousaf also heard how young people are concerned about being unable to escape the harassment due to the increasing use of social media.

He urged social media giants to do more to protect against misogyny, racism and hatred.

He said: “I think social media companies have to do more, I can say that from looking at my own personal social media – there’s much more that can be done by social media companies.”

He added: “We want schools to create cultures in which all members of the school community know that gender-based violence is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Prevention and early intervention are key to the approach to address the underlying causes of gender-based violence, particularly gender inequality.”

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While Gilruth said the framework would support those who work in schools to be able to deal with violence appropriately.

“We’ve taken great strides in recent years to tackle gender-based violence across society and it’s concerning that misogynistic views and language have appeared as emerging issue in recent research into behaviour in schools,” she said.

“There is no place for harassment or abuse in any form in our schools, and this framework aims to provide support for everyone in a school community to recognise it as it occurs and be equipped to respond appropriately.”