Sexually abusive language and conduct ‘normalised’ in schools

Posted: 21st February 2023

One in five schoolchildren, some as young as 11, have experienced or witnessed sexual harassment while at school and sexually abusive language has become “normalised” in British classrooms, according to the most comprehensive study of its kind.

The survey of attitudes and experiences, seen exclusively by i, was carried out after warnings from Ofsted and reports of abuse shared on the Everyone’s Invited website.

More than 6,000 school pupils across the country were interviewed and the study found that 21 per cent had received nude pictures or other inappropriate images on their mobile phones while at school, and 19 per cent had directly witnessed sexual harassment taking place on school grounds.

Of those, only a third (31 per cent) said they had reported what they had seen to a teacher.

More than 700 pupils (12 per cent of those interviewed) had themselves been a victim of sexual harassment. Yet only 34 per cent of those (240 pupils) had reported what happened to them. Pupils said they chose not to report sexual harassment because they felt doing so would not make any difference and that perpetrators would not be punished.

The rising popularity of “manosphere” social media influencers, such as Andrew Tate, has previously been noted in many schools and the research exposed instances in which girls described experiencing harassment but boys said they could not see a problem with that behaviour.

Of the thousands of young people who took part in the study, just 52 were sixth formers, meaning the vast majority were aged between 11 and 16 and under the age of consent.

The study, co-ordinated by Citizens UK, took in the views of children at schools run by 10 large multi-academy trusts. Multiple instances of harassment, particularly of female pupils, were reported across all the schools.

Source: Sexually abusive language and conduct ‘normalised’ in schools (

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