Teenage boys exhibiting “deviant sexual behaviour” in Leeds schools are being targeted in a new project to stop them becoming abusers.
A charity has been given £56,000 by Comic Relief to work with 13 to 16-year-olds caught exposing themselves in class, using explicit language with staff and pupils and showing other worrying tendencies.
The news comes as figures obtained by the Yorkshire Evening Post show that more than 160 pupils have been excluded from schools in the city in the last four years for so-called sexual misconduct.
Lisa Matera, youth work manager at Youth Point – the charity behind the project – said: “We were asked to do this is because schools were reporting deviant sexual behaviour.
“A lot of work is being done already with women to try to give them self-confidence and give them the skills to spot the patterns of abuse, but no-one was working with lads.”
The charity’s youth workers hold group sessions with boys who have been identified by their schools. They are told why they have been called into the group and encouraged to discuss their attitudes to women and are shown why their behaviour is inappropriate. The non-compulsory sessions are currently being run in two schools but could be rolled out more widely.
It comes as figures obtained by the YEP under the Freedom of Information Act show 161 youngsters were excluded from schools in Leeds between 2008 and 2012.
Gilly Green, Comic Relief’s head of UK Grants, said: “Youth Point’s work with vulnerable young people to address sexually inappropriate behaviour chimes with Comic Relief’s aim of tackling the root causes of sexual exploitation.
“The organisation has a strong track record of success with other youth oriented projects.”