Children sexually assaulted by classmates
Thousands of children are being sexually bullied and even assaulted in school, an investigation has found.
Julie Henry, Telegraph, UK, 4 Jan 2009
Children, some as young as four, have been victims and perpetrators of sexual misconduct ranging from name calling, inappropriate touching to serious sexual attacks.
Groping and the use of sexually-abusive nicknames have become almost part of daily life for some pupils, according to BBC One's Panorama.
Testimony from two young girls who were left traumatised after being sexually assaulted by classmates is featured in the programme, to be broadcast tomorrow.
In most cases, offenders are not expelled. Official figures show that 3,500 pupils were excluded for sexual misconduct in 2007 - equating to 19 exclusions per school day - including 260 cases in primary schools. Sexual misconduct can cover anything from sexually explicit graffiti to rape.
The Department for Children, Schools and Families does not routinely publish a breakdown of reasons for permanent exclusions but the number kicked out of school for sexual offences is small.
The programme reveals that many incidents could be going unreported because pupils learn to accept inappropriate behaviour.
One teenager said:
A 13-year-old girl described how she was a victim of a sexual assault after months of inappropriate comments and touching by a boy in her class. After reporting the assault, she was shunned by her friends who felt she should have kept quiet.
Another teenager was forced to move schools after being subjected to a serious assault by a group of boys. Her father described how she was lured in to a classroom before school started by fellow pupils and forced to perform a sex act on one while the others watched. The boys were later prosecuted and given custodial sentences.
Paula Telford, children's services manager at the NSPCC, said the charity had treated victims and perpetrators as young as four years old.
The programme explores the sexualisation of childhood and how gang culture, music, the internet and TV are affecting how young people view the world.
* Panorama: Kids Behaving Badly, Monday 5th January 2009, 8.30pm, BBC One