English schools excluded 700 children for sexual misconduct in past four years

The Guardian reports that hundreds of children, including some as young as five, are being expelled or temporarily excluded from school for sexual misconduct including abuse, assault, harassment and watching pornography, according to new figures.

Figures obtained via a freedom of information request by the Press Association from 15 local authorities found 754 children had been expelled or temporarily excluded from school as a result of sexual misconduct in the past four years.

At least 40 of the cases involved children under 10 – the age of criminal responsibility – and of those, seven pupils were in their first year of school.

Sarah Green, co-director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, said: “The Department for Education (DfE), and school leaders and parents, need to take responsibility now for ensuring better child protection, better policies on bullying which recognise sexual bullying, and good relationships and sex education.”

The Press Association figures, though limited to a small number of local authorities, provide an insight into the nature of sexual misconduct in schools and the age of the perpetrators. Most local authorities approached for information either refused to disclose or said they did not keep figures. The data came from Brent, Cornwall, Derbyshire, Devon, Dorset, Durham, Greenwich, Isle of Wight, Leicester, Lincolnshire, Liverpool, North East Lincolnshire, Oldham, Somerset and Wigan.

An NSPCC spokesman added: “Social media, sexting, online porn and dating apps did not exist when sex education was introduced on the curriculum a generation ago. It must be dragged into the 21st century.”

The women and equalities committee heard evidence that almost a third (29%) of 16-to-18-year-old girls have experienced unwanted sexual touching at school, and nearly three-quarters (71%) of all 16-to-18-year-olds say they regularly hear terms such as “slut” or “slag” used towards girls at schools.
Is social media and access to the internet to blame for this worrying trend? Should the parents be held accountable, especially as 40 of the cases involved children under 10? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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