More than 3,000 children – including hundreds aged under 11 – are being excluded from school for sexual misconduct every year, it emerged last night.
According to Department for Education figures, in 2010/11 3,030 children were excluded. Of those, 200 were primary school children: 10 were expelled and 190 suspended. In 2009/10, the exclusions figure was 3,300 for offences including sexual bullying, harassment or assault, lewd behaviour and writing sexual graffiti.
The figures, obtained by the Daily Mail, came a day after The Independent published a first-hand account by a mother, Lizi Patch, on how her 11-year-old son told her his childhood was over after he felt pressured by school peers into watching a pornographic film online that he couldn’t “unsee”.
Campaigners have been raising concerns with children being increasingly exposed to a highly sexualised society.
Lib Dem peer Baroness Benjamin has said girls are becoming increasingly sexualised and boys are treating them as little more than ‘sexual objects’ and the children’s presenter Floella Benjamin has said young people are being led on a ‘seemingly unstoppable march into a moral wasteland’ by online porn.
A survey by the NSPCC last year found that 30 per cent of secondary school teachers and 11 per cent of primary teachers were aware of incidents of ‘sexually coercive’ behaviour by pupils towards classmates over the past year.
And a Channel 4 News investigation in December revealed that teenagers as young as 13 are routinely ‘sexting’ naked pictures of themselves.
Claire Perry, the Prime Minister’s adviser on childhood, told the Daily Mail: “These statistics on expulsions confirm the uneasy sense that many parents have, that our children are operating in an increasingly sexualised culture which is spilling over into the classroom.”
A Department for Education spokesman said: ‘Exclusions for sexual misconduct are extremely rare and are decreasing, with these statistics representing less than 0.05 per cent of pupils across the country.
‘Nevertheless we know headteachers take this issue extremely seriously.”