Amassing "nudes" of female pupils has become a "collection game" in schools, an Ofsted report has warned.
Youngsters see sharing naked images as "part of life", according to inspectors who were commissioned by ministers to investigate safeguarding in schools in the wake of "rape culture" allegations.
Ofsted found that sexual harassment has become "normalised" for schoolchildren and they often do not report it because it happens so frequently.
Boys are sharing "nudes" on platforms such as WhatsApp and Snapchat, Ofsted inspectors were told, while girls have experienced "unwanted touching in school corridors".
The watchdog visited 32 state and private schools and colleges and spoke to more than 900 young people about sexual harassment after thousands of testimonials were posted on a website.
In April, the Government asked the schools watchdog to look at safeguarding policies and experiences in schools and colleges following anonymous reports to website Everyone’s Invited.
Amanda Spielman, chief inspector of schools, said the findings "shocked" her as she called for sexual harassment to "have no place" in schools and colleges.
Amanda Spielman, the Ofsted chief, said girls "feel they have to accept sexual harassment as part of growing up"
Credit: GEOFF PUGH
Ofsted’s report said they saw "clear evidence" that online sexual harassment has a "significant impact on the normalisation of harmful sexual behaviour and unhealthy cultures within school". It went on: "In one school, children and young people told inspectors that boys talk about whose ‘nudes’ they have and share them among themselves – it’s like a collection game.
"Many young people told inspectors this behaviour was so commonplace that they just saw it as a ‘part of life’. One Year 12 student said, ‘It’s so widespread it’s like playing whack-a-mole’."
Pupils were most concerned about sexist name calling, inappropriate sexual comments, being sent unsolicited explicit material and being pressured to send nude pictures of themselves, the Ofsted chief said.
"It’s alarming that many children and young people, particularly girls, feel they have to accept sexual harassment as part of growing up," Ms Spielman said. "Whether it’s happening at school or in their social life, they simply don’t feel it’s worth reporting.
"This is a cultural issue; it’s about attitudes and behaviours becoming normalised, and schools and colleges can’t solve that by themselves."
The review found around nine in 10 of the girls inspectors spoke to said that sexist name calling and being sent unwanted explicit pictures or videos happened "a lot" or "sometimes".
Gavin Williamson, the Education Secretary, blamed online pornography saying it was "far too accessible" and young people are too easily exposed to it. "It can distort their understanding of healthy sex and relationships," he said.
"There is no simple solution to tackling this, and it’s not something we expect schools to handle alone. These issues go beyond the school gates and happen under the radar online, without parent or teacher knowledge."