Commenting on the launch of the first parliamentary inquiry today (Tuesday) into the scale and impact of sexual harassment and sexual violence in schools by the Women and Equalities Committee, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union in the UK, said:
“There is absolutely no place in our schools for sexual harassment or violence towards either pupils or staff.
“Schools should be places of safety, yet the NASUWT’s own research shows that all too often pupils and teachers are being exposed to sexual comments and threats.
“Mobile phones and social media have become tools by which this abuse is perpetrated.
“Teachers who took part in an NASUWT survey earlier this year on social media abuse reported sexual comments, including threats of rape, made about them by pupils online.
“Over half of teachers said they knew of pupils who have used social media to share sexual messages, pictures or videos and over half also said they were aware of pupils using social media to send insulting or bullying messages of a sexist nature to other students.
“However, it must be recognised that the problem of sexual harassment and violence cannot be left to schools to tackle alone, it is a societal problem.
“The NASUWT welcomes the launch of this inquiry as a welcome step forward in considering what steps need to be taken to ensure that no child’s education or teachers’ working life is blighted by this abuse.”
Notes to editors
1,304 teachers responded to the NASUWT survey on the abuse of technology during March 2016.
The survey found that:
53% of teachers have been aware of pupils using social media to share messages, pictures or videos of a sexual nature;
56% of teachers were aware of a pupil in their school sending insulting or bullying messages of a sexist nature.
Teachers who responded to the survey were invited to share their experiences of online abuse and examples of social media being used for bullying and sexual messages between pupils. A selection of their comments on sexual violence and harassment are below:
Examples of sexualised messages between pupils
A girl, pretending to be romantically interested, persuaded a boy to take a picture of his genitals. She then shared the image.
A vulnerable student was befriended on social media by other students, who used Snap Chat to encourage her to send inappropriate sexual images of herself. A screen shot was taken and the photos were distributed around the school.
Insulting online abuse to teachers from pupils
Threats of sexual violence towards me. (Rape)
They started a site called "teachers we want to f**k" and found photos of female staff to put up where people left comments.