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Shoved, groped and pestered for sex: a typical day for girls

news | Published in TES magazine on 18 May, 2012 | By: Adi Bloom

Harassment such as 'daggering' is routine by Year 8, research finds

Girls as young as 12 are bombarded on a daily basis with requests to send boys photos of their breasts or to perform blow jobs on them on camera. And many girls consider being groped and dry-humped by boys an inevitable part of the school day.

Academics from the University of London carried out qualitative interviews with Year 8 and Year 10 pupils in two London schools. Their research, published this week, reveals the proliferation among teenagers of "sexting", the sending of sexualised text messages, and "daggering", boys forcibly thrusting their penises at girls from behind.

The researchers have called on teachers to address such harassment directly, recognising that both perpetrator and victim could be sitting in the same classroom.

Cherelle, a 13-year-old girl, talked about how she could not expect to walk past boys in the school corridor without being groped by them: "You walk past, and a boy will pass and they will squeeze your bum or something, and just touch your tits."

Frequently, this goes further, with girls pushed down in the corridor by a group of boys and "daggered". Thirteen-year-old Jodie said: "Most of them will be all on you at the same time, and ... you will be, like, 'get off me', and they won't get off you, and that is when it becomes serious."

The boys confirmed these reports, but insisted that it was not serious. "It is not like rape or anything," one boy said.

Jessica Ringrose of the Institute of Education, University of London, who led the research, said that there was a "deeply rooted notion that girls' and young women's bodies are somehow the property of boys and young men".

This could be seen, too, in the daily requests girls received to send naked photos to boys. Boys regularly solicited images of a girl's naked body, with the boy's name written on it in black marker pen. One girl sent a photograph of her naked breasts, with the words "Jason owns me" written on them.

Year 8 pupil Claire said: "If they want a blow job, they will ask every single day until you say yes." Many boys use such images - showing a girl's head and a boy's penis - as their BlackBerry Messenger profile pictures.

"Technology allows people's inhibitions and barriers to break down," said John Lloyd of the PSHE Association. "Young people seem to think that because it's on a phone it distances them from any outcomes and repercussions."

Both boys and girls tend to blame the girls for such outcomes. Year 10 pupil Alexandra said: "Why would you send your naked pictures to a boy that you have just been going out with for a week or two?"

But boys collect the images: one Year 10 boy claimed to have 30 on his phone. Some boys upload them to Facebook groups dedicated to photographs of girls' naked body parts. Others circulate "munch screens": screen grabs of BlackBerry message exchanges. One boy said: "If a girl said something like, 'oh, do you want me to suck your dick?' ... then he will munch that and then he will put it as his profile picture, and people will see what the girl said."

Boys also threaten to circulate rumours about a girl unless she agrees to pose for a photo.

Such images provide boys with a way to boost their popularity. "Given that other ways to get ratings, such as fighting, crime and expensive consumer items, can be difficult for boys to navigate ... collecting and circulating images of girls carries less risk," the researchers said.


- Find a way to acknowledge that sexual harassment may not come from a stranger or paedophile, but from another child in the class.

- Remember that both perpetrator and victim may be in the same lesson.

- Remember that, for some girls, the pressure to participate in a sexualised exchange is experienced as bullying.

- But be aware that - unlike bullying - not all sexting is a problem. Young people are interested in their developing sexuality and many will explore sexual ideas or relationships.

- Issues of respect, consent and reciprocity in sexual relationships should be discussed.

- Sexting should be addressed in small, single-sex groups.

- Be aware that pupils will have different levels of sexual experience.

- Pupils prefer such issues to be addressed using up-to-date, realistically filmed scenarios that can then be discussed.

- To be credible with pupils, teachers need to be as up to date as possible with the technology they are using.

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5 average rating

Comment (5)

  • Ban mobiles and all such devices. Police the ban viciously.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    19 May, 2012


  • That wouldn't stop it. It'll just move it out of school or further underground.

    It is the behaviour which is wrong not the technology.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    22 May, 2012

    Brooke Bond

  • Banning mobiles/technology is a really unhelpful approach to the situation. How will young people learn to use technology responsibly if it is banned in school? Mobile devices are just a tool by which this behaviour is perpetrated and perpetuated. Boys and girls need instead to be taught to respect themselves and one another. They need to learn that girls are not the property of boys and their worth does not lie in their sexual availability.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    23 May, 2012


  • The report also underlines a degree of collusion in this behaviour between school and boys, with girls reporting that the attacks on them, whilst being captured on CCTV, are not acted on by the school and boys laughing that they access porn on school computers, and leave it on screen, where it is laughed at by the teacher finding it. Maybe teachers need to remind boys particularly that intimidating a girl into having sex with them by stating 'they know where she lives' as one girl stated in the report, is rape, that grabbing girls' genitals is sexual assault as is rubbing their genitals against a girl and that porn, with its descriptions of women and girls as wh***es, sl*gs, sl*ts and worse, plus its depictions of body hurting sex is not fantasy, but real women being photographed doing things which are dangerous, very often in situations where consent is an extremely murky issue. Perhaps pointing out that the sex industry, of which porn is the media arm, is the biggest single commissioner of human slavery in the modern world, might open up a useful discussion into human rights and how every person, whatever their gender, is entitled to be treated with respect and without fear of intimidation and threat whilst undergoing an education in this country.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    23 May, 2012


  • Its worth pointing out to the students that sharing explicit photographs such as these is facilitating child pornography, an offence in itself.
    There is a confidence issue here, one that needs to be adressed amongst boys and girls. The girls need to find reassurance from the boys that they are accepted and the boys need this as reassurance of their masculine sexuality.
    Effective SRE is the only way to tackle this, if you take phones off them then it will simply move the issue further away from our own eyes.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    24 May, 2012


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