How do you talk to boys about Andrew Tate?

Andrew Tate leaves a court in Bucharest, Romania, where he is being detained on suspicion of human trafficking. Credit: AP

By ITV News content producer Talia Shadwell.

A schoolteacher who educates other teachers on how to handle misogyny and sexual harassment in the classroom is encouraging parents to speak to their sons about Andrew Tate.

Matt Pinkett, an English teacher in south-east England, runs workshops for teachers on how to address the internet provocateur's influence in their classrooms.

Tate's rise to infamy - becoming the most searched person in the world - has deepened unease about young men's exposure to his content.

The self-styled influencer airs misogynistic views that have earned him bans from social media platforms over hate speech, in videos coaching young men to imitate his luxury lifestyle .

Matt Pinkett offers workshops helping other teachers deal with Tate's misogynistic views spreading to classrooms. Credit: Supplied

Mr Pinkett speaks to teachers around the United Kingdom who he says are experiencing a surge in hateful language and sexual harassment from boys influenced by Tate's rhetoric.

The teacher, and published author of books including Boys Don't Try: Rethinking Masculinity in Schools and the forthcoming Boys do Cry: Improving Boys' Mental Health and Wellbeing in Schools, also travels to classrooms to speak to boys about sexism, relationships, and mental health.

He said demand for his workshops among concerned teachers was so high, they sold out three times, describing how women were facing an increasingly threatening classroom environment.

Mr Pinkett told ITV News: “I cannot overstate enough how often female teachers are being harassed – not just daily, but some are harassed in every lesson they’re working.”

“Schools don’t really know how to deal with it because it’s brushed off as just harassment or inappropriate kids’ behaviour – just part of 'boys being boys'.”

Who is Andrew Tate? ITV News' Jossie Evans and Sam Leader delive into his rise to infamy

“I’ll go into classrooms and chat to boys about that and what they can do to call each other out and recognise when they’re the target, or, more often: the perpetrator of it.”

He suggests parents should proactively open conversations with their children about Tate, and not take a hostile approach that could provoke a defensive attitude.

The teacher said there was no "magic bullet." But he offered some tips could help parents open difficult conversations with their children.

Remind your children not to share personal or sensitive information online. Credit: PA

Don't impose a screen ban

It may be tempting for parents to take a punitive approach - cutting their kids' screentime in hopes of reducing their exposure to troubling content.

But Mr Pinkett warns against cultivating forbidden fruit.

“Then your child is going to go to school not knowing anything about the world, when every other kid at school is accessing the internet. I don’t think the answer is making your child a social outcast.”

Instead, Mr Pinkett suggests, parents should make it their job to research who Tate is.

The 36-year-old British-American kickboxer and influencer is currently being held in Romania on suspicion of human trafficking and organised crime.

His brother, Tristan, and two Romanian women are also in custody as part of the same case. None of the four have been formally charged. This week, a court extended their detention for another 30 days.

Tate has claimed Romanian prosecutors have no evidence and alleged their case is a “political” attack designed to silence him.

Romania's anti-organised crime agency said following his arrest it had identified six victims in the human trafficking case who were subjected to “acts of physical violence and mental coercion” and sexually exploited by members of the alleged crime group.

The agency alleged victims were lured with pretenses of love then were intimidated, placed under surveillance, and subjected to other control tactics while being coerced into engaging in pornographic acts for the financial gain of the crime group.

Listen - don't shut them down

The teacher said women are getting a raw deal - facing the brunt of violence and sexism. But he also hears from young men uncertain of their place in the world.

“Masculinity is in a precarious spot - particularly for young boys. They are being told to be men, but they are also feeling demonised, lacking a voice.”

Empathetically listening to boys talk about their anxieties lays the groundwork for a conversation about their attitudes to women - and why views like Tate's appeal to them in the first place, Mr Pinkett says.

He recommends asking questions - and preparing for potted responses.

Andrew Tate and his brother, Tristan, are escorted in handcuffs into court in Romania’s capital Bucharest. Credit: AP

If a teen has expressed attitudes blaming women for being sexually abused, he suggests asking them if they think Tate has condoned rape in any content they've watched.“The boys will say 'well, that’s been taken out of context.' So then you can ask a question like 'can you explain the context,' or; 'can you tell me more about how Andrew Tate makes his money?'”Such conversations can be led with empathy - but end with a firm stance, says Mr Pinkett.

"It's important to lay down boundaries, explaining that rape is unacceptable.”

Talk to boys about coping with rejection

The first step is to acknowledge you understand that young men are being fed narrow ideals of masculinity - and that can trigger insecurities, Mr Pinkett says.

“I think when you talk about sexuality it can be so binary: You’re either a man who is successful because you’re successful with women or a dominant man; or, you’re a 'wet blanket with no backbone'.”

Concern about 'incel' - or involuntary celibacy - ideology has been brewing for years, as men angered by their perceived sexual inferiority express misogynistic hate online, and some, like Elliott Rodger, turn to real-world violence.

Jake Davison killed five people and then himself in August 2021 in Plymouth Credit: PA

In the UK, an inquest is currently being held into the death of mass shooter, Jake Davison.

Exactly what motivated his August 2021 shooting spree - in which he first killed his mother, then opened fire on Lee Martyn and his three-year-old daughter Sophie, Stephen Washington and Kate Shepherd - may never be known.

The inquest has so far heard the 22-year-old was a loner obssessed with guns, who viewed hateful misogynistic, homophobic, and incel content online, including material about misogynistic terrorist killer Rodger.

Elliot Rodger, 22, killed six people and injured 13 others in Santa Barbara, and released a manifesto describing himself as an incel. Credit: AP

The Guardian recently reported counter-extremism workers have warned of a rise in referrals from schools concerned about pupils influenced by Tate exhibiting concerning behaviour.

A recent review of the Prevent programme was criticised for not insisting misogyny become a target of counter-extremism policy aimed at tackling radicalisation.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman has said she will overhaul Prevent, but said it needs 'major reform' focused on security “not political correctness”.

Mr Pinkett says any parent who is fearful that their child's attitudes are dangerous should immediately engage their school for help - as teachers are trained in using a range of referral programmes.

At home, parents can guide their children through healthy coping methods for experiencing rejection - and encourage them to question how they're expressing themselves to others, Mr Pinkett says.

“If my son came to me and said 'women - they're awful, they don’t want anything to do with me. I can’t get women to spend any time with me or want a relationship with me,' I would say: 'You can be angry about it - and that can feel cathartic. But you have to take this aggression and apply it to being passionate about something.'"

"'Could you get a hobby, start something new?'"

He says parents should encourage their sons to take notice of how other people respond to them, and why that may be - by asking them: "How are you talking to women?”

The introduction of online porn age verification has been delayed. Restrictions will be enforced from July 15. Credit: Yui Mok/PA

Don't be scared to talk about sex

Parents can be "prudish" and "scared" of talking about sex with their children, says Mr Pinkett.

But turning a blind eye to the topic risks leaving violent pornography and popular media to fill the vaccum, he warns.

"I think social media has a big impact on the way boys talk about women. But what about what’s on ITV- like Love Island - and the boys on Love Island routinely using phrases like ‘bodycount’ to count the number of women they’ve slept with?

Love Island features a cast noted for their idealised physiques. Credit: PA/ITV

"Isn’t it interesting that a phrase like bodycount can describe how many people you’ve slept with, but also means the number of people you’ve killed on the battlefield?”Mr Pinkett said he believes the UK must follow France's example in introducing age verification tools online.

Almost half of young people in the UK now believe girls expect sex to involve physical aggression, according to a recent report on pornography.

Research found that one in 10 children in England have viewed pornography aged just nine, with half of those surveyed having seen it by the time they reached the age of 13.Mr Pinkett echoed the Children's Commissioner's call for ministers to urgently pass legislation, and follow other countries in introducing restrictions to prevent children accessing pornography and creating underage social media profiles. "It works," he said.

Appeal to kids' internet literacy

Young people today are growing up online, and are deeply engaged with internet culture, Mr Pinkett says.

Appealing to their expertise can help parents encourage kids to expand their "savviness" to thinking critically about whether personalities and advice they may encounter online could be aimed at deceiving them.

“If you take something like body image - they know the influencers they are seeing don’t have an eight-pack, that they don’t have those perfect curves - that those images are being distorted. So there’s nothing to stop you opening that conversation in other ways.”

Influencers such as Molly-Mae Hague are paid by brands to promote their products on social media Credit: PA

“Kids are very smart so of course they really do understand what pornography is, or what Andrew Tate is.

"They can understand memes, they understand what irony is. Kids are funnier than ever – you just have to see some of the jokes they come up with on the internet.

"Don’t insult your kids’ intelligence by thinking they are too immature for it."

But Mr Pinkett warns the problem did not begin - and will not end - with the Tate phenomenon, saying rape culture in schools reflected sexism outside the classroom walls.

“Andrew Tate could be what saves us, ironically," he said.

"It’s Andrew Tate that’s causing schools to s*** themselves about something that I’ve been bleating on about for years. Only, the people who should have listened five years ago are listening now.”

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