Fifteen children are expelled from school for sexual misconduct on average every day.At least one of these will be from primary school, official figures show.
More than 3,000 children are excluded every year for offences including sexual bullying, sexual assaults and harassment.The revelation comes amid increasing concern over the prevalence of ‘sexting’, when boys share explicit pictures of girls, often leaving the victims feeling suicidal.Campaigners say the increasing sexualisation of society, fuelled by easy access to internet pornography, is behind the disturbing figures.
Only yesterday the National Union of Teachers warned that sexual equality has been ‘rebranded by big business’ into a ‘raunch culture’ which is damaging the way girls view themselves.Playboy bunnies adorn children’s pencil cases, pole dancing is portrayed as an ‘empowering’ form of exercise and beauty pageants have become a staple of student life, delegates said.Statistics from the Department for Education show that in 2009/10, there were 3,330 exclusions for sexual misconduct. In 2010/11, a further 3,030 children were excluded for the same reason.
The 6,000-plus cases cover lewd behaviour, sexual abuse, assault, bullying, daubing sexual graffiti, and sexual harassment.The 2010/11 total includes 200 exclusions from primary schools: 190 suspensions and ten expulsions.There have been warnings that the number of expulsions may only hint at the true scale of the problem.England’s deputy children’s commissioner has told MPs that head teachers are reluctant to tackle sexual exploitation of children for fear of the message it will send out about their schools.
Sue Berelowitz said schools were not facing up to the fact that some bullying amounts to sexual violence.There were 2,830 exclusions from secondary schools – 2,760 suspensions and 70 permanent.A survey by the NSPCC last year found that 30 per cent of secondary school teachers and 11 per cent of primary teachers were aware of incidents of ‘sexually coercive’ behaviour by pupils towards classmates over the past year.
And Floella Benjamin, the former children’s presenter, warned of an ‘epidemic’ of violent online porn which is leading youngsters on a ‘seemingly unstoppable march into a moral wasteland’.Baroness Benjamin, who sits as a Lib Dem peer, said girls were becoming increasingly sexualised while boys were treating them as little more than ‘sexual objects’.Last night Claire Perry, the Prime Minister’s adviser on childhood, said: ‘These statistics on expulsions confirm the uneasy sense that many parents have; that our children are operating in an increasingly sexualised culture which is spilling over into the classroom.
‘We need to be aware of the problem and crack on with plans for family-friendly internet filters, clean wi-fi and improved adult content blocks on mobile phones, as the Government has promised.’The Daily Mail has been campaigning for tough restrictions on web porn amid fears that it is warping children’s views of sex and relationships.David Cameron has promised that all new computers will be fitted with web filters unless parents specifically lift them, but no timetable has yet been put in place.
Last week the Association of Teachers and Lecturers heard that girls as young as 13 are taking part in homemade porn movies and 12-year-olds are waxing or shaving intimate areas.Many agree to boyfriends’ demands to send revealing photos of themselves, only for the images to be shared around or posted online.Jon Brown of the NSPCC said: ‘We have seen a surge in calls to ChildLine from girls who have been victims of sexual violence, often linked to “sexting” and online pornography.
Teachers need proper training in dealing with this issue and we must educate young people about what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour.’In December, an investigation by Channel 4 News revealed that boys and girls as young as 13 routinely swap explicit pictures of themselves. Youngsters say the practice has become ‘mundane and mainstream’.One girl told researchers: ‘I get asked for naked pictures at least two or three times a week’, while another referred to sexting as ‘the new flirting’.
A boy said: ‘You would have seen a girl’s breasts before you’ve seen her face.’A spokesman for the Department for Education said: ‘Exclusions for sexual misconduct are extremely rare and are decreasing, with these statistics representing less than 0.05 per cent of pupils across the country.‘Nevertheless we know headteachers take this issue extremely seriously, and this Government has reinforced their powers to tackle poor behaviour, including giving schools the final say on the reinstatement of permanently excluded pupils.’ – DailyMail