We believe that there are both emotional and economic reasons why girls miss school during their period. Our recent research in conjunction with YouGov UK, proved this, with more than 350,000 girls* admitting to missing school due to being on their period, equivalent to 2.1 million hours*, with 27% saying embarrassment and shame-related factors are the reasons behind this.

But why is this happening?

A lack of period education for boys in school was a key factor behind this.

94% of boys admitted to not knowing a lot about periods and 20% admitted to not knowing the basic facts, including whether you can hold periods in ‘like wee’ or whether it’s safe to exercise when you’re on your period.

Because of this, boys feel awkward about periods and some resort to teasing their classmates. 45% of the boys who admitted to teasing said they do it because they feel awkward and 39% are copying their friends.

For almost half (43%) of the girls we spoke to, they said that boys tease girls at their school or joke about periods – 40% of this teasing happens in class under the noses of teachers.

What is the impact of this?

The impact is that girls fear going to school during their period.

91% of the girls we spoke to said they worry about going to school when on their period and for more than a fifth (21%) of girls this is because they fear boys knowing.

What is the solution?

Our research highlights the need for schools to provide children with better access to and more engaging information about periods. Worryingly, 72% of boys have not received dedicated lessons about periods, even though for 31% of children and 48% of boys, school lessons are their main source of periods information.  

It also shows that the lessons on periods that are in place are failing to engage children with 73% of children having a negative experience of lessons. For boys, only 17% of them find broader lessons that touch on periods useful, 42% find them awkward and 38% find them embarrassing.

Dedicated lessons were much more likely to make boys feel more positive about periods, with boys saying that they found the lesson to be useful (41%), important (28%) and interesting (25%).

We believe that to normalise periods all children should be fully educated about periods regardless of their gender and that this should be done with boys and girls in the same group. The children we spoke to agreed, with more than half believing that everyone should be taught together.

What is Bodyform doing about this?

To address these issues, our Fear Going to School Less campaign aims to improve period education and tackle the taboos around periods.

In 2019, we launched a pilot programme to work with schools to provide staff with the resources and classes they need to improve period education for all children, as well as increasing access to menstrual products. The pilot was conducted in conjunction with the Self Esteem Team, an organisation that delivers school workshops to children.

How can I get involved?

To get involved in this campaign, visit our social pages to join the #bloodnormal conversation and watch and share the campaign video where we ask a group of young people from across the UK why they think children miss school on their period and what should be done to tackle the problem.

*Statistics included in this article are taken from the Fear Going to School Less survey that was conducted in conjunction with YouGov UK. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 1020 children aged 11-16. Fieldwork was undertaken between 16th - 27th July 2018.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of children aged 11-16 on age, gender and region.

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