Council Targets ‘Sexualised’ Playground Behaviour

Specialist teams are being sent into Birmingham primary schools to target inappropriate sexual behaviour, as teachers become increasingly worried about young pupils interacting in a “sexualised” manner with each other. Teachers are concerned that children as young as seven are playing inappropriate school playground games with one another, such as the old-fashioned kiss and chase game. In Birmingham, the city council has been sending experts from its Inappropriate Sexual Behaviour Teams into schools across the city where teachers have raised concerns.

Stephane Brenton, a social worker with the team, told the Birmingham Post that an increasing number of primary and secondary schools believed they had a problem, prompting the council’s specialist team to be dispatched to at least eight schools throughout the city.

Mr Brenton said: “Sometimes you have a whole school where all the kids are very flirty. They are seven and eight and they are flirtatious. We go with them and address the issue to make sure they know what they are talking about.

He said that some boys believed that girls wore short skirts to get attention because they wanted to be touched. He also said children were being exposed to more sexual images on television and in magazines or on the internet and were becoming aware of sex at a much younger age.

Penny Barber, chief executive of Birmingham’s branch of the sexual health charity the Brook Advisory Clinic, urged the government to acknowledge that sex and relationship education needed to be taught at all schools.

Ms Barber said: “Sex and relationship education needs to start in primary schools so that if young people are copying inappropriate things from home, they will be able to identify what is right and what isn’t.”

She said there was no reason why young people should not be given “early and accurate information about what it means when their emotions and bodies change”.

A Birmingham council spokesman said: “The Inappropriate Sexual Behaviour Team was set up in 2003 and aims to prevent and reduce inappropriate sexual behaviour amongst young people in the city.

“More recently the team has delivered pro-active presentations and preventative work in schools in order to promote appropriate behaviour. The team takes referrals from social workers, the Youth Offending Service, schools and healthcare agencies.

“A major part of the team’s work is with a small group of young people who have been identified by agencies as having been involved in inappropriate sexual behaviour. The team undertakes in-depth assessments and interventions with both the young person and their family in order to prevent such behaviour re-occurring.”