Thursday, April 15

“Very intimidating”: teachers on sexual harassment by students | Schools


“II have had threats of rape. Someone told me: ‘I’m going to find your daughter and rape her.’ They call you scum and whore. Sometimes it’s a joke and everyone thinks it’s funny. Sometimes it’s anger directed at you. “

Anne, who does not want to give her real name, worked in a pupil referral unit with excluded pupils in South West England until she quit her job due to post-traumatic stress disorder, and is one of the many teachers of whom has witnessed. the toxic culture of sexual harassment and abuse within schools.

The topic of sexual misconduct in schools has made headlines in recent weeks due to testimonials submitted by students to the Everyone’s Invited website. However, over the weekend, the NASUWT union highlighted that teachers face similar problems.

Anne has already submitted her testimonial to Everyone’s Invited. Her experiences with some of the most challenging pupils in the school system in England may be more extreme than others, but she has also worked in regular schools, and says that it is a problem there too, and that it is getting worse.

“I’ve had students who have been in relationships where they touch each other inappropriately in lessons, so I sent them to sit separately and the boy replied, ‘I haven’t thrown her on the desk and fucked her, have I? ?

“It can happen in classrooms and hallways, on breaks and at lunchtime. People think, ‘Oh, it’s just a joke, it’s just a comment, ignore it.’ But when it’s day after day, it really starts to affect you. “

Younger women in particular were targeted, especially if they wore skirts. “Almost no one wore skirts to work,” Anne said. If they were leaning over a desk, a student would be behind them making sexual advances and gestures. After that, they put on pants.

Since Covid and the lockdown, Anne says behavior has deteriorated because students have had no limits and have had access to more online pornography than usual, sitting at home in front of a screen. “There is a problem with the very sexualized and aggressive way they treat staff,” he said.

Vicky works in a large secondary school in the north of England and says that children will openly view pornography on their phones at lunchtime, in the dining room, inside and out. “There have been times when guys have whistled at me when I was walking down the hall or during lunch or break.

“There was a time when a rather defiant student who used to skip classes walked past our classroom and made a sexual gesture at me while I was teaching my class, and everyone saw it. That was the worst.

“There was another time when I was queuing for lunch. Someone yelled, ‘Slap him on the ass.’ Another child said, ‘You can’t say that about a teacher.’ I looked back and I was the only teacher there.

“It makes me feel sad. It makes me angry. I went to talk to the director and I said, ‘If someone said that to me on a night out, I would not tolerate it. But because I’m in this setting, being the adult in the room and in an educational setting, I felt like I had to accept it. “

It’s not just the students who are the problem. “One of my colleagues had a moment when she walked into a classroom, a wolf boy whistled at her, and a teacher in the class laughed.”

Vicky has also been intimidated. They may not have the intention of doing so. I’m only 5 feet 1 inch tall. When children reach a certain age, they are growing up and really tall. They are at that age when they start talking more about sex. It can be very, very intimidating. “

When asked if she felt safe in the hallways of her school, she said: “There have been times when I haven’t felt that way. That was a time when I didn’t enjoy going to work. I felt: I am going to a place where they disrespect me because I am a woman. “

Incidents of this type can have a dramatic effect on teachers. A senior leader who advised a colleague said: “He is quite a bold person, but I was completely stunned by what he had experienced.

“She was shaking. Suddenly he felt vulnerable. She was shocked and that turned to anger. She was not used to feeling this way in a professional workplace. “

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www.theguardian.com

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