Children aged 11 are upskirting teachers, says union | UK News
Pupils as young as 11 have taken pictures up the skirts of teachers, a union has said.
The teaching union NASUWT says an increasing number of female teachers and girls have been the victim of upskirting.
General secretary Chris Keates, speaking at the union’s annual conference in Belfast, said reports of the “deplorable act” were often not taken seriously by schools.
In February a teenager was found guilty of making videos of two teachers at a school in Northern Ireland who were both supported by the union.
Schoolchildren as young as seven were among the growing number of upskirting victims last year, police figures released earlier this year have shown.
Ms Keates said: “When sexual harassment issues are raised, be it upskirting or others, people are saying ‘Are you sure you didn’t do something to provoke it?’ or ‘Was it just a bit of banter?’
“I think what the upskirting case showed us is it can be institutionalised – in that the response the teacher got was, ‘A 17-day exclusion is proportionate to what’s happened to you and it was just opportunistic.’
“I think that encapsulated what a lot of our members feel. What a lot of women feel, particularly when they raise some of these issues, is that they’re not taken seriously.
“That people who have never been the victim of that can’t really understand how it actually feels.”
She added: “It’s the same for the girls in the school, because boys are being allowed to do these kind of things – and actually if it’s not taken seriously it leaves the girls very vulnerable as well.”
There has been an “enormous growth” in the number of women contacting the union because they felt it was a safe place to discuss the problem, Ms Keates said.
When asked the ages of pupils involved in upskirting, Ms Keates said: “We haven’t had a case of upskirting in primary schools, it’s been secondary schools.
“We’ve had it in all age ranges – the one I was talking about was a sixth form pupil, but we’ve had them sort of 14-year-olds, and we have had some as young as 11.”
She said mobile phones should be treated as offensive weapons in classrooms because they posed a danger to other pupils as distractions, and raised the risk of cyber bullying.
Ms Keates branded upskirting a “particularly vile form of objectification of women” and said the new legislation in England did not go far enough.
“It just looks at the upskirting element, as opposed to the issue of image abuse,” she said.
In England and Wales upskirting became a specific criminal offence earlier this month and the Voyeurism Act says it should be treated as a sexual offence where the most serious offenders should be placed on the sex offenders’ register.
Upskirting is a specific crime in Scotland but there is no legislation covering Northern Ireland.
Ms Keates said some NASUWT members had also had their faces superimposed onto pornographic images.
She explained: “It is something that comes up quite regularly actually, because of course we have a lot of schools that have websites, they put teachers’ pictures on the websites.”