School staff should watch out for signs of FGM


Schools should be vigilant for the signs of female genital mutilation (FGM) such as frequent toilet visits and pain while sitting down, according to a school teacher speaking at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers’ annual conference in Manchester.

Helen Porter from Berkshire said that teachers and other school staff should openly discuss FGM with parents and publicise the NSPCC's FGM helpline to pupils, parents and staff.

In response to reports from campaigners that girls are most at risk of undergoing the procedure during the long summer holidays, Helen added: "Schools and education staff can help by … scrutinising holiday requests and summer holiday plans from members of communities that practise FGM.”

"We must aim to empower girls by discussion in age appropriate PSHE lessons delivered by trained teachers.

"We must equally empower boys to challenge this practice. Do they want this for their sisters, daughters, girlfriends or wives?"

Her passionate speech was given at the ATL conference as part of a motion to lobby politicians to eliminate the practice and to develop resources to advise teachers and support staff on how to tackle the problem. The resolution was passed.

The ATL’s resolution follows the decision by the Scottish Parliament in February this year to ask all headteachers in Scotland to train staff and educate parents about female genital mutilation, after a BBC investigation revealed concerns that young girls were being brought to Scotland to undergo FGM because the country was seen as a "soft touch".

FGM includes procedures that remove or injure female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

Dangers include severe bleeding, problems urinating, infections, infertility, mental health problems, complications in childbirth and increased risk of death for newborns.

Last month, two men were the first in the UK to be charged in connection with performing FGM.


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