Safeguarding children is the most important concern for all people who work with children and young people. With the rise of social media, being able to effectively safeguard children has become more challenging and what can be even more challenging to deal with is the presence of popular online personalities or influencers who become well-known and even famous for exhibiting harmful behaviour over online platforms. One such influencer who has grown in popularity in recent months is Andrew Tate. Tate has gone viral on social media platforms for his lavish lifestyle and controversial, even misogynistic and extremist, views. Schools across the UK are encountering increasing numbers of pupils who admire Tate - and so teachers are having to work out how to respond. There are reports of children as young as 11 quoting online personality Andrew Tate at school, even resulting in acts of violence towards female peers. We have taken a closer look at who Tate is, as well as the behaviours he encourages.
Who is Andrew Tate?
Andrew Tate is an American-British former professional kickboxer turned internet personality. He is a self-described ‘success coach’ and has a subscription-based online marketing programme called ‘Hustler’s University’ with over 100,000 subscribers. Tate has recently seen a rise in online notoriety due to a string of controversial comments and behaviours, such as:
Rape victims put themselves “in a position to be raped” and “must bear some responsibility”, claiming most do this for advancement in ‘opportunity’. (This comment got him banned from Twitter.)
Claiming mental illness makes people ‘weak’ and that depression ‘isn’t real’.
Promoting gendered violence and misogyny on his podcasts (e.g. “It’s bang out the machete, boom in her face, and grip her by the neck…”).
“18 to 19-year-old women are more attractive than 25-year-olds because they’ve been through less d**k.”
“’Uh, real men cry and women can cry and men can cry, too, there’s nothing wrong with it.’ And there absolutely is something wrong with it. Life as a man is far more difficult than life as a woman.”
Recently, Tate has been banned from all social media platforms, including TikTok, Twitter, Youtube and Facebook. Tate has been labelled as a misogynist by many media outlets though Tate claims all allegations that have been put against him were “taken out of context.” Despite this, it’s worth noting that before being banned, Tate had over 11 billion views on TikTok, 4 million Twitter followers, 4.7 million Instagram followers, and 768,000 YouTube subscribers. His followers (who he refers to as his “army”) have continued to spam these platforms with edited video footage and podcast recordings in support of him.
Towards the end of 2022, Andrew Tate, along with his brother Tristan, were arrested and detained in Romania on suspicion of rape and human trafficking. They were released but remain on house arrest.
What is Hustler's University & Why is it Dangerous?
Hustler’s University is an online forum founded by Andrew Tate, which claims to help provide education and coaching to more than 231,000 students worldwide. It offers training in courses like Copywriting, Marketing, Freelancing, and Stock-Crypto trading, with promises that students will begin to earn high amounts of money. Until that point, students are encouraged to “sell” memberships on social media to friends and peers to practice ‘what they are learning’.
Why is it dangerous? Well, here are just a few reasons;
Age restrictions; Children and young people as young as 13 engaging with forums on Hustler’s University. There is no effective age verification process (although a credit or debit card is needed to subscribe), and most of the content is for a more mature audience.
Potential for grooming; As this online forum encourages self-improvement, accountability, and learning from male role models, it has the potential to be an environment for grooming.
Misleading; Many former members claim the coursework is ‘mediocre at best’ and can be found online for free. Additionally, Tate did not make his millions via the methods he 'teaches' - he made his fortune in the porn and gambling industries. Included on the site are themes of misogyny, violence, and conspiracy which can be extremely harmful especially for vulnerable young people.
Fitness focus; There is a focus on physical fitness, while failing to recognise potential limitations to physicality (e.g. disability) or access (e.g. memberships). This could negatively influence mental health and self-confidence.
Why Are Children and Young People So Interested in Andrew Tate?
A lot of the boys can see that there's parts of Andrew Tate that they respect and admire, and then there's parts that they don't - they know that he says a lot of terrible things. But also he's glamorous, he's good looking, he does lots of things that they think are cool.
- PSHE Teacher, Northern Ireland
Across social media, Tate is often displayed surrounded by luxury cars, models, cigars, luxury houses and wads of cash. He is also often seen with high profile people, some of whom share his controversial opinions.
Male role model
This is indicative of a wider, societal failing we are currently experiencing where many children (upwards of 50%) now come from broken homes, and a majority of those children have little to no male role model. These children, especially boys, are especially vulnerable to influencers like Tate who talk about what it is to be 'a real man' and have the lifestyle that many young people aspire to.
Isolation and loneliness
Similarly, children and young people who feel isolated, rejected, and ostracised are particularly vulnerable to this type of content. A newly discovered set of ideologies could make sense of their world while offering them a place of acceptance and new friends.
The controversial nature of these behaviours seems to automatically make unknown names into trending hashtags on social media platforms and videos go viral on platforms like TikTok. By engaging with or even making their own videos along similar lines to Tate, young people could also gain similar fame.
What are the Risks of Children Engaging with This Content?
When many adults consume Tate's content, we can clearly see through the BS that he sprouts and some even describe his lavish lifestyle as 'embarrassing' and 'screaming of insecurity'. However, the children and young people who come across his content are far more impressionable and the risks that are posed to them are quite dangerous. They include;
Replicating behaviour exhibited by Tate or what he promotes.
Low self-esteem due to constant comparison of their own lives with 'successful' people where being a millionaire with luxury cars and houses is the norm and said to be easy to obtain.
Having harmful emotional reactions to the harmful online content
Damage to their reputation and future prospects. Many employers scour an individual's social media prior to hiring for positions, and seeing pro-Tate content could affect their employability prospects.
Radicalisation and adoption of harmful views that often lead to inclusion in violence.
Potential criminal records were they to engage with violence or sexual assault based on what Tate claims to be acceptable behaviour and 'what women want'.
How Can You Support?
Many schools have been attempting to tackle Tate’s influence head on, whether in lessons, assemblies, in one-to-one conversations with students, or in correspondence with parents. To help you give the best care and support possible in situations where harmful content is being used or presented, online safety experts have provided the following advice for parents, carers, and safeguarding professionals.
1. Spot the Signs
Teachers should also watch out for potentially harmful, biased, or discriminatory language. Here are some of the red flags that a young person has been exposed to radicalising material:
belief in male supremacy or expressions of misogyny, which could include policing girls’ behaviours;
belief in antisemitic conspiracy theories;
belief in the necessity of violent insurrections
blaming immigrants for societal shortcomings;
sharing racist stereotypes and other concepts, including that white people are being replaced or oppressed by people of colour;
looking forward to societal chaos or collapse
2. Teach Media Literacy
Learning how to identify disinformation and misinformation online is a key skill for students to have. Teachers and school librarians can work together to teach students how to spot propaganda and determine credible information. Teaching young people how to identify the strategies and tactics that extremists use to radicalise others—such as scapegoating marginalized groups and cherry-picking facts—can be particularly effective. When the students then see those kinds of strategies in their social media feed, they often get angry, saying, “How dare you try to trick me?"
It can also help to have conversations about current events—like protests against police violence—in the classroom so that students have the necessary context and understanding when they read about it online.
3. Don't Shame Students
Teachers have a responsibility to call out offensive or harmful statements, experts say. But those types of comments should be confronted without disparaging the student. Ridiculing and scolding have actually been shown to strengthen problematic beliefs. Fostering a respectful dialogue is typically more effective. Educators could ask open-ended questions like, “What values do you stand for?” or “What kind of person do you want to be?” These conversations might be better had one-on-one rather than in front of peers, so students feel more comfortable sharing their views.
4. Create Communities
For the lost and disenfranchised, the groups created by Tate and others like him often offer a sense of community and belonging. They provide a home for these frustrated boys - someone to say, "Yes, you're right. It is hard. I understand, and it's not your fault." Like so many extreme groups, they offer easy answers to complex questions and support to those who feel isolated from their existing communities. You have to remember that the issues that these boys are dealing with are real and that these groups are providing a sense of solace and understanding. Purely demonising them will not help. To remove them from a community, we need to welcome them into another one. Show them that hate and anger aren't long-term plans. So, think about the options in your area. Look up where they can go and who they can speak to.