Call for phone ban to save teachers from ‘upskirting’
MOBILE phones should be banned in schools as sexual harassment of teachers has become ‘rife’, it has been claimed.
Female staff are being subjected to ‘upskirting’ and ‘down-blousing’ – photographs taken up skirts and down blouses – by pupils using the devices.
Almost one in ten teachers in England has been sexually harassed by a pupil and subjected to inappropriate behaviour.
Now the NASUWT union has called for a clampdown on mobile phones, warning they should be ‘treated like offensive weapons in the classroom’. The union surveyed 1,290 teachers and found that 81 per cent had suffered sexual harassment or bullying in the workplace.
Some 8 per cent of teachers reported being sexually harassed by a pupil, while 7 per cent said their abuse came from a colleague. Six per cent claimed the harassment was by a manager and 2 per cent by a pupil’s parent.
Nearly a third (30 per cent) of those who have been sexually harassed had been subjected to unwanted touching. Two-thirds (67 per cent) have experienced ‘inappropriate’ comments about their appearance, while 51 per cent have faced sexual remarks and 21 per cent have been sexually propositioned. Three per cent said they had suffered ‘upskirting or down-blousing’ by male students. Female pupils have previously reported similar problems, with some resorting to wearing shorts under their skirts to stop it.
One teacher told the NASUWT: ‘A pupil filmed up my skirt during lessons. It was done to another teacher too. The pupil was suspended but then returned.’
Another female teacher said she had been ‘slapped’ on the backside by several male members of staff. She had also faced comments about her breasts and sex life. Forty-two per cent of victims did not report the incidents of sexual harassment, with many fearing they would not be believed or that nothing would be done to help.
Of those who did report sexual harassment, in over a fifth (21 per cent) of incidents, no action was taken against the harasser. Four in ten (41 per cent) said the harasser was spoken to, but the victim did not feel the response matched the seriousness of the incident. One in ten also said they felt they were not believed.
It comes as the union also reported that one in five teachers is turning to alcohol to help cope with the ‘physical and mental toll’ of their job.
Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said there can be ‘no place in our schools for sexual harassment or bullying of staff’.
Referring to mobile phones, she added: ‘The NASUWT has argued for a long time that mobile phones need to be treated like offensive weapons in the classroom.’
Some three-quarters of teachers cite ‘lack of parental support’ as the main cause of poor pupil behaviour in school. One NASUWT member complained of a ‘lack of respect from parents who think they know better than the teachers’, while Miss Keates said there were ‘a lot more reports of parents who are not working with schools on behaviour, and are actually being extremely aggressive’.