Children as young as 11 are upskirting teachers as reports in schools grow, union leader says

Banning mobile phones in classrooms could help protect pupils and teachers, NASUWT says

Eleanor Busby
Education Correspondent
Sunday 21 April 2019 17:59
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Chris Keates, leader of NASUWT union, said upskirting was 'vile and deplorable'
Chris Keates, leader of NASUWT union, said upskirting was 'vile and deplorable'

Children as young as 11 are “upskirting” teachers as a growing number of female staff and school pupils are falling victim to the alarming trend, a union leader has revealed.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, said upskirting was a “vile and deplorable” form of sexual harassment and objectification of women.

Schools are failing to protect teachers amid “enormous growth” in upskirting reports, Ms Keates said, adding that banning phones in the classroom could help to protect pupils and teachers.

Many female teachers feel they are “not taken seriously” when they report photos and videos being taken up their skirts, she said.

The union leader suggested that schools should reconsider the installation of open stairs in the wake of the trend.

Her comments at the NASUWT annual conference in Belfast came after upskirting became a specific criminal offence in England and Wales earlier this month.

But Ms Keates says legislation in England does not go far enough as it does not include “image abuse”.

Teachers have become “seriously ill” or left the profession after photographs of their faces have been superimposed on pornographic images which have been widely distributed, Ms Keates said.

And the issue has come up “quite regularly” as pupils take the teachers’ photos from school websites.

She called on schools to consider removing photographs if there is an issue of image abuse and staff safety. “I do think it’s something that schools need to think carefully about,” Ms Keates added.

Her comments on upskirting and sexual harassment come after a teenager was found guilty in February of taking “upskirt” pictures of two female teachers supported by the NASUWT union.

He was convicted of five counts of outraging public decency in relation to videos he took as a pupil.

The incidents happened at Enniskillen Royal Grammar School in Northern Ireland when he was aged 14-15.

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But Ms Keates believes the law on upskirting does not go far enough – as it does not include the issue of image abuse.

“We’ve had members who have actually become quite seriously ill or who have left the profession because they’ve had their photograph posted on pornographic images,” she said.

It comes after a study by NASUWT last year revealed that four in five (81 per cent) of teachers said they believed they had suffered sexual harassment or bullying in the workplace since starting the profession.

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