I am writing this blogpost already torn about the subject matter: Andrew Tate. There is a very relevant argument that we should be reluctant to give this man any more airtime than he already has and yet it is also vital that we in safeguarding circles are aware of who he is and the risks he – and others like him – pose to young people today.
Tate is on many people’s lips today as it has just been announced in the news that he and his brother have been arrested on charges of rape and human trafficking. For many of his fans, this may have come as a shock.
Andrew Tate is a British kickboxer, businessman, and author. He has competed in various kickboxing organizations around the world and has held several world titles. He was famously ejected from the UK Big Brother house when a video surfaced of him assaulting a woman and beating her with a belt. Although Tate at the time denied this, and said the video had been doctored, he has since managed to gather a following of over 4 million people on social media. Many of these followers are children and young people – mainly male. He has made statements advocating rape, saying women bear some responsibility for sexual assault, and other similar statements about women’s inferiority and need to be controlled by men.
So, what does this mean for us in safeguarding?
As mentioned above, Tate has many young male followers. Whilst having previously had a sizeable TikTok following himself, he is also mentioned in and tagged into a huge number of TikTok videos made by young people who have been influenced by his misogynistic views.
It was reported recently that in one UK school, a year 10 male student chose the subject of Tate for a project, arguing that his views about women are correct.
Other teachers have been worried about the impact of Tate in their classrooms, so much so that the Instagram account @the.unteachables created a guide supporting teachers to address Tate’s views in the classroom.
It is important too that we do not view this as a sexism issue alone, but rather a risk of radicalisation.
We must keep in mind that this year there have been debates in parliament and elsewhere as to whether or not misogyny should be made a hate crime. You can read more about this here: Making misogyny a hate crime: Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021 factsheet – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
As with incel culture, young men might be radicalised into believing that their lack of success with girls is the fault of the girls themselves. Indeed, quotes by Tate including the following have the potential to influence vulnerable young men into thinking they need to subjugate young women in order to truly be a man:
“By extension, if I have responsibility over (a woman), then I must have a degree of authority’ and;
“One of the best things about being a man is being territorial and being able to say ‘that is mine.’”
When we consider contextual safeguarding, we must always keep in mind the influence of a child’s online world over their emotional and intellectual development. While a child’s parents/carers may hold positive and modern views of gender roles and equality, the risk does not disappear if the child is more influenced by people such as Tate.
There is always hope though. Years ago, I went on a fantastic training course led by a man (whose name I forget but whose message I remember clearly!) who said: ‘we must always ensure children have a counter-narrative’.
Telling young people to stop watching and listening to Tate’s videos is likely to serve only as a ‘keep off the grass sign’, making the grass suddenly a much more appealing prospect. Instead, engaging with these ideas, exploring and challenging them; and encouraging young people to engage in healthy debate is vital. As professionals working with young people, we can provide the crucial counter-narrative by modelling equality and respect as well as debunking the unhealthy myths Tate is pedalling.
In addition to this, we must take these risks seriously and consider whether our young people are at risk of radicalisation.
To be very clear: This does not mean, of course, that every child who has heard of, is mentioning or has watched an Andrew Tate TikTok video is being radicalised. However, we would be concerned if children were following, admiring and heavily influenced by someone who advocated the control and rape of a particular religious or ethnic group for example. With that in mind, we must explore these questions and consider the potential contextual safeguarding risks facing our young people.