The Andrew Tate Effect. Who is Shaping the Values for School Boys?Posted in : Cassidy's Comments on 2 May 2023
According to the Guardian newspaper in February 2023, Andrew Tate the social influencer has become very popular among British teenage boys. They apparently copy his phrases and philosophy. Parents and schoolteachers have expressed concern that he is influencing boys to exhibit misogynistic and aggressive behaviour. A 2023 survey conducted by Hope not Hate, a UK advocacy body which campaigns on social justice issues found that eight in ten boys aged 16-17 had consumed Tate's content and that 45% of men in Britain aged 16–24 had a positive view of him, compared to only 1% of British women aged 16-17 who held a positive view of Tate.
Emory Andrew Tate III, to give him his full title, is a British-American social media personality, businessman, and former champion professional kickboxer. He attracted wider attention in 2016, when he appeared on the Big Brother reality TV show, but was removed after his comments on social media promoting an "ultra-masculine, ultra-luxurious lifestyle" caused controversy. A self-described misogynist, Tate's controversial commentary has resulted in his suspension from several social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram, where he had amassed millions of followers.
The Guardian reported in February 2023 that teachers and parents are worried that Tate’s views are seeping into the minds of schoolchildren. Labour MP Alex Davies-Jones spoke in parliament about Tate’s “toxic” influence on schoolboys and criticised Rishi Sunak for being “too slow to recognise the damage this is causing”. As a result, she was “bombarded” with rape and death threats. Extensive media coverage in the past few weeks has meant that teachers and parents are becoming increasingly aware of Tate’s messaging and the potential threat it poses. Secondary schools across the country have mobilised to arrange additional training for staff, workshops for pupils and awareness-raising events for parents.
The Guardian also quotes Sean Maher, the headteacher at Richard Challoner, a Catholic boys’ school in New Malden, Surrey, with a co-educational sixth form. He describes how he has seen Tate’s influence spread through his school. He reports that Tate’s views are a common discussion point. The school has decided to tackle it head on, talking to pupils about the impact of “toxic masculinity” and highlighting positive role models. Maher is planning to send a letter to parents with advice on how to talk to their children about Tate. “I don’t think schools can tackle this on their own. Parents play a very important role,” he argues.
The issue has come to public attention in Northern Ireland following comments by District Judge Barney McElholm. BBC NI reported that he has said that children and young people should be educated about domestic violence in school as the number of domestic abuse cases coming before him are continuing to rise. He warned that social media influencers like Andrew Tate are contributing to an overall lack of respect for women and girls. Mr McElholm, who is based at Londonderry Magistrates' Court, has called for young people to be taught about the dangers of domestic abuse in school.
"There needs to be a coordinated, planned change to the school curriculum whereby the school curriculum is to focus on the whole question of domestic violence, abuse, the wider question of respect for each other as human beings…. If that's successful that will lead to less offending."
The BBC have also reported that schools are trying to work out how to respond to the popularity of Andrew Tate among male pupils. They quote a Belfast secondary school teacher who describes Tate as, “Intelligent, articulate and disciplined” and who is clear that the online influencer is a role model to many of the boys at her school in Belfast. The problem is, she claims that Andrew Tate also promotes "Taliban beliefs" about how to treat women.
Other countries are worried about this issue too. An American helpline service for domestic violence, (help4abuse.org) for example has a very clear take on the effect of these kinds of social messages among young men. They argue strongly that Tate is simply the latest in a long line of poor male role models who position themselves as the “answer” to young men’s insecurities. The social media presence of Tate they suggest, has normalized these sexist exchanges among young men and they argue that “jokes” about rape or devaluing women increase, attacks on women. As well as the clear potential and actual harm to women, this kind of extreme misogyny they feel, actually harms men as well. There is evidence that men who have sexist beliefs tend to have higher rates of substance abuse and depression and are less likely to be able to ask for help, more likely to bully others, and are less likely to form intimate connections with women or men.
The incidence of domestic violence in our society here has been highlighted recently as a result of a new scheme launched by the PSNI called Operation Encompass. This is a partnership between the Police Service, the Safeguarding Board Northern Ireland (SBNI), the Education Authority (EA) and schools. BBC IN Education reporter Robbie Meredith has revealed that schools in some areas of Northern Ireland have been alerted more than 2,000 times in less than two years about pupils affected by domestic violence. If the PSNI attends a domestic abuse incident where children are present, they will contact the child's school before the next morning to inform the teachers responsible for safeguarding. This means that the child or children involved can be offered support. It should be a matter of deep concern to us that social media messages gaining popularity among schoolchildren could in any way add to this terrible problem.
We have always been proud of the strong traditions of values and moral education provided by our schools here. I have no doubt that they will rise to the challenge of countering this problem.
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