SOME adults reference the adverse experiences of their early lives to try and make the argument that today’s young people have never had it so good.

It’s even worse when they go on to use the cruel logic that: “it never did me any harm”.

Whether it’s the impact of the fuel crisis, shameful child poverty levels or the use of violence to discipline children, you don’t have to search for long to find adults who will claim that the way things always were are the way they must always be.

But surely, we should want our children to have a better experience growing up than we did? Our own negative childhood experiences should provoke an instinctive, determined response to protect our young people from the same fate.

Most adults who were subjected to horrifying – perfectly legal – physical punishments from teachers would riot in the streets before allowing their children or grandchildren to be treated similarly.

But some try to argue that teachers are too soft today, that standards in schools fell when it became no longer acceptable for them to use force to incite fear.

I’m an aging millennial, so that wasn’t a thing during my school career. We had our fair share of dodgy teachers but thankfully, none that were armed with a cane.

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But there are plenty of behaviours and practices that were normal and routine when I was young that I want to protect my nine-year-old daughter from at all costs.

When I was at school, sexism and misogyny were rife. But it’s only as an adult that I feel comfortable using those words to describe our school culture.

Back then, it was just yet another thing to navigate. When girls were on the receiving end of lewd commentary about our growing bodies from our male peers, we learned to shrug and laugh it off.

When they touched or grabbed us without our consent, we would wriggle free as fast as we could and then go about our day as normal.

I remember one girl who was targeted far more than most. The boys would regularly make comments about her bum and grab it – roughly – whenever they got the chance. There was a period where it became so incessant that whenever she was in standing in the corridor at breaks she would either position herself with her back to a wall or hold a folder in such a way as to shield her bum from view.

Thinking back to that time is so maddening to me now. I didn’t intervene or suggest that she tell a teacher what was going on. I didn’t take any action when similar things happened to me, either. It was seen as a bit of fun and not worth making a fuss about.

But if anything like that ever happened to my wonderful, precious girl I know I’d feel – and be guided by – that sense of intense fury that comes with being a parent.

Violence against women and girls charity Zero Tolerance recently released a report on gender inequality in Scottish schools. It seems that, to our eternal shame, girls growing up today have it no better than their parents’ generations did.

The study found that 64% of girls and young women have experienced sexual harassment in schools in the last year. Some 37% of girls know another girl their age who has experienced rape or sexual assault.

Heartbreakingly, one in five girls and young women say they don’t feel safe in school. The evidence also shows that girls from deprived and marginalised backgrounds face even higher rates of violence than their peers. These figures are a stark reminder that whatever progress we think we have made in tackling gender inequality, it’s not nearly enough.

Girls and young women should be learning in an environment that is safe and supportive. They deserve the space and security they need to achieve their potential, without being forced to navigate the ongoing threat of unwanted touching or sexual assault.

Interactions between male and female pupils at school set the basis for the behaviour they will take out into the wider world.

School isn’t just where you learn reading, writing and maths. It is a place where those crucial social skills that we rely on in adulthood are formed.

We do a disservice to girls – and boys – if we allow our places of learning to become hotbeds of sexism and non-consensual touching. If girls feel like they need to adapt their behaviour to navigate these threats then something has gone badly wrong.

We should want more for them than simply surviving their school years and emerging out the other end relatively unscathed.

If they are to become all they deserve to be then we should be led by a desire to see them thrive, not merely survive.