Education news

Upskirting 'not taken seriously enough' as union claims 11-year-olds involved

General Secretary of NASUWT, Chris Keates, as the teachers' union has claimed children as young as 11 are taking photos up teachers' skirts

CHILDREN as young as 11 are taking photos up teachers' skirts, a union has claimed.

NASUWT, the teachers' union, said it had been receiving an increasing number of reports of girls and female staff becoming victims of upskirting.

Speaking at the annual conference in Belfast, general secretary Chris Keates said some schools did not take such reports seriously enough when staff become victims of the "deplorable" act.

She said that while she had not heard of any teachers dressing conservatively, or wearing shorts under skirts to overcome the issue, members had expressed concerns about schoolgirls also being targeted.

She also called on architects and designers who build schools to take into consideration issues such as the installation of open staircases.

Her comments came after a teenager was found guilty in February of making videos of two teachers who were both supported by the union.

The teenager was convicted of five counts of outraging public decency in relation to videos he took as a pupil at a Co Fermanagh school in 2015 and 2016.

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

Ms Keates, said: "When sexual harassment issues are raised, be it upskirting or others, people are saying 'are you sure you didn't do something to provoke it?' or 'was it just a bit of banter?'.

"I think what the upskirting case showed us is it can be institutionalised - in that the response the teacher got was, 'a 17-day exclusion is proportionate to what's happened to you and it was just opportunistic'.

"I think that encapsulated what a lot of our members feel. What a lot of women feel, particularly when they raise some of these issues, that they're not taken seriously. That people who have never been the victim of that can't really understand how it actually feels."

Upskirting became a specific criminal offence in England and Wales earlier this month following a high-profile campaign.

As a result, the Voyeurism Act allows upskirting to be treated as a sexual offence and ensure that the most serious offenders are placed on the sex offenders' register.

It will capture instances where the purpose is to obtain sexual gratification or cause humiliation, distress or alarm.

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