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Teach UK schoolchildren about harms of online misogyny, says police chief

Teach UK schoolchildren about harms of online misogyny, says police chief

Boys in particular need to look at behaviour inspired by likes of Andrew Tate, says lead on violence against women and girls

A senior police officer has recommended teaching schoolchildren from primary level about the risks of online image-sharing and misogynistic social media figures such as Andrew Tate.

Maggie Blyth, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for violence against women and girls, said pupils should also be taught how to deal with the likes of Tate, who has become an emblem of a culture of online misogyny.

In an interview with the Times, she said: “I think there’s so much more that must and should be done at primary school into secondary about boys’ behaviour, and what boys feel they can get away with.”

She added: “The exacerbated risk around Instagram and Snapchat, where behaviour goes online that is unchecked – sharing of images, pornography, misogyny. The whole Andrew Tate line is really grave.”

Tate, a British-American national, is being held in Romania where he is under investigation for alleged sexual assault and exploitation.

Blyth’s comments came as a survey showed significant numbers of young people aged 14 to 18 were watching pornography regularly, with some becoming addicted. The study, conducted by Dignify, a charity that researches sexual abuse, spoke to 4,000 children in Hertfordshire.

It found that 22% of students had viewed pornography on multiple occasions. Of those, one in five said they had developed a habit of watching such material and one in 10 said they felt addicted. It also found that non-consensual image sharing had also become a serious issue among schoolchildren.

Blyth, a deputy chief constable in Hampshire, said the problem of male violence and misogyny was “much bigger than policing” because some offenders would receive only community sentences while other forms of misogynistic behaviour would not reach a threshold for conviction.

Blyth said: “We know that we won’t be putting every offender or suspect of these types of crime in prison. We have to be aware we are dealing with a lot of risk in our society.

“Being clear about the modus operandi of the ones that are dangerous, and trying to be able to predict that, is the way to go. But it’s very difficult and complex because risk is changing every day. The bigger debate for society is around prevention. And how do we stop men and boys developing a [harmful] type of behaviour or attitude?”

Blyth said she was working with the Department for Education to produce a package that could be used in schools. Teaching unions have said they need extra help in coping with the demands placed on them in dealing with harmful online content such as pornography.

Unions have also described a decision last week by the government to conduct a review of sex education in schools as “politically motivated”, saying there was no evidence of claims by Conservative MPs that children were being shown age-inappropriate materials in classrooms.

Legal pornography sites will be required to prevent children from accessing their content under the forthcoming online safety bill, using measures that include strict age checks. The law on sharing intimate images without a person’s consent will also be updated.

A new “base offence” in England and Wales of sharing an intimate image of someone without their consent will now apply regardless of motivation. Currently, the offence applies if the image is shared in order to cause humiliation or distress.

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