Set up to examine teachers’ observations of sexist and anti-social views amongst students, to date the survey has drawn 132 responses, and the scene that’s emerged is ‘fairly compelling’, lead researcher Dr Samantha Schulz, from University of Adelaide, says. 

Teachers have reported heightened use of misogynistic language and behaviours by male students, some as young as five, with female teachers – who made up 80 per cent of survey participants – the obvious target of slurs and intimidation. 

Tate’s online influence is clearly the source of the deeply misogynist views and attitudes being parroted by boys in schools, Schulz tells EducationHQ

“...I think it’s quite clear to draw correlations, first of all, Andrew Tate’s name specifically comes up frequently, but also the underlying messages that are espoused by the likes of [Tate] follow a pattern themselves: the idea that women have gained all the control, that men have been forgotten and left behind, that feminism has somehow led to men and boys’ disenfranchisement, and that in order to resolve these problems, that the natural gender order needs to be restored. 

“And we can see elements of this cropping up in the language and behaviours where [boys] primarily are repeating and playing out ways of being a man or a boy that are designed to essentially restore their superiority,” she says. 

One high school teacher reported that boys call girls in their class liars and repeat misinformation they’ve encountered online, proffering statement such as ‘the pay gap doesn’t exist’, ‘women lie about rape’, and ‘men are superior’.

Aggressive and vulgar sexualised language is also being used more and more by boys during interactions with women and girls, teachers have reported. 

“Boys are increasingly using misogynistic language towards female students and teachers, telling them to ‘make me a sandwich’,” one teacher noted.

Boys describing women as ‘rapeable’ and using derogatory terms such as ‘slut’, also emerged from responses, as did the instance of male students making animal noises and gesturing offensively towards girls and female teachers. 

Female teachers are also facing physical intimidation tactics from boys that happen out of sight of male staff, Schulz says.

One high school teacher said male students were increasingly violating her personal space with seemingly “innocuous behaviours”.

“[This includes] entering my classroom at break time/ coming up to my car window and pointing for me to wind it down to just stand there or getting their friends to call out my name when I walk past. They do this when I am alone and there are no witnesses,” the teacher flagged. 

Last week a Romanian court ruled that a trial can start in the case of influencer Andrew Tate, who is charged with human trafficking, rape and forming a criminal gang to sexually exploit women. PHOTO: AAP

But Schulz says it’s critical that boys are not demonised in coverage about, and in our response to, this problematic trend. 

“If we position boys and men as the problem that’s only going to underscore and reinforce the idea that society doesn’t care about [them], and will drive them further toward the likes of Andrew Tate and the messaging that he’s providing,” she warns. 

School leaders’ response to the issue generally needs to lift, the researcher indicated. 

“Some of the teachers have said that their school-level response has been really good; many, however, have said that it’s been inconsistent or non-existent. 

“And so first and foremost, teachers need to be heard and believed, that’s really important. 

“And there needs to be some kind of coordinated response so that teachers feel safe.” 

Some female educators said they intended to quit teaching because they do not feel safe at school. 

“I know I shouldn’t let it affect me but it is draining and I have anxiety and dread going to class,” one reported. 

Schulz points out that we’ve already got a ‘declared crisis’ in teaching, and that we can’t afford to lose any more from the profession. 

“South Australian teachers in particular, have noted that they’re at breaking point already. So, teachers just need to be valued, supported and listened to, I would say,” she added.

The researcher is calling for a national response to the problem, and says consent and respectful relationships education alone is not enough. 

Rather, Australia needs a ‘code of conduct and reporting guide’ so the scale of the issue can at least be mapped out, she argues. 

“There are places in other parts of the world where they have unified systems of reporting these events, but also supporting and preparing school leaders and teachers to respond in a uniform way as well. 

“And what that does, is it just gives us a sense of the scope of the problem – and unless we put figures to these things, they don’t really exist in the eyes of policymakers and politicians…” Schulz says. 

The findings echo those of other research done by Monash University’s Dr Stephanie Wescott and Professor Steven Roberts, who last year drew on the reflections and insights of 30 women teachers to warn Australian boys were increasingly falling prey to a ‘regressive masculinist supremacy’ espoused by Tate online. 

Meanwhile, on Wednesday National Cabinet met to discuss how the problem of gendered violence across the country can be tackled. 

“I’m really not saying that boys and young men are the problem,” Schulz emphasises.

“They require nourishing, supportive learning environments, just like everyone else.

“Teachers are already under duress, they’re under stress. So, I don’t want this to be a teacher blaming situation.

“But floodlighting this issue and connecting it to the boarder conversation that we’re currently having around gender violence and gender equity is incredibly important, because it’s often been missed...”