Sexual harassment and bullying appear to be a daily fact of life for many children and young people, says a teaching union.
A survey conducted by teaching union NASUWT found that 86 per cent of teachers were aware of pupils sharing messages, photos or videos of a sexual nature with one another.
One teacher who responded to the survey reported pupils “photoshopping pupils’ faces onto pornographic images”, while another reported that “students send 'dick pics' and this is happening in Year 7”.
The survey, which attracted responses from 1,359, also found that 39 per cent of teachers said they were aware of students being sexually harassed by other pupils, while 75 per cent said they were aware of pupils being bullied in school and 70 per cent were aware of pupils being bullied online or via mobile phone outside the school day.
Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: “Teachers have never before had to deal with such a complex range of pupil welfare issues as they do today.
“The pressure on teachers and headteachers is enormous and is putting at risk their own mental and physical health and wellbeing.
“These challenges are compounded by cuts to school staffing and to external specialist support.
“The government must bear responsibility for the position in which schools find themselves. It is a betrayal of staff and pupils to continue to expect schools alone to deal with all of these issues.”
The survey, carried out this month, found that 11 per cent of teachers were aware of pupils capturing or sharing photos or videos up teachers’ skirts or down their tops in the last year.
Teachers also say they are struggling to access professional support for pupils experiencing mental health problems – amid an upswing in the number of children and young people experiencing depression, panic attacks and self-harming.
The majority of teachers said reductions in staffing levels at their school were making it more difficult to support children’s learning and wellbeing.
The results of the survey included that:
- 96 per cent of teachers believed they had come into contact with pupils who are experiencing mental health issues. Of these, 92 per cent say pupils are exhibiting anxiety or panic attacks, 80 per cent depression and 67per cent self-harm
- Nearly two thirds (64 per cent) said they were not confident that they or their school would be able to get timely support from expert services such as CAMHS for pupils experiencing mental health problems.
- Over half (51 per cent) say staff numbers at their school had decreased in the last two years, with nearly two thirds (65 per cent) saying they were not able to give pupils as much individual attention in lessons due to the loss of support staff, while a similar number (64 per cent) said pupils were not always taught by a teacher trained for the subject or age range due to the loss of teaching staff.