Schoolgirls across Iran have joined the nationwide unrest by defiantly posting pictures of themselves without their headscarves, writing "Woman, Life, Freedom" on the walls, singing the anthem of the protest movement "For" and ripping portraits of Ruhullah Khomeini and Ali Khamenei, the former and current leaders of the Islamic Republic.
The crackdown on under-18s has been brutal, with the authorities responding to child protesters with detentions and violence.
According to information received by IranWire, the principal of a girls' primary school in Tehran’s 4th district searches into the students' bags every day to see if portraits of Khamenei or Khomeini have been removed from textbooks.
The families say those who tore photos are pulled out of the class by school managers and forced to attend a meeting in the presence of a cleric close to a government. They say these meetings are aimed at threatening the students.
"Our children have been told that they [school manager] will denounce students to the police and that they should go to jail. They also threatened parents," a relative of an 11-year-old girl told IranWire.
"The first day when they searched the children's bags and books, students were terrified. They were crying while their bags and books were being checked,” the source added.
“Meanwhile, a meeting was held for the students at this school, during which the nationwide protests were condemned and the students were told that without the Islamic Republic the ISIS (eds: the Sunni extremist group) would come to power in Iran and kill their parents.”
A family member of another student said, "They insult students and scare the children with the threat that…they will be arrested by police.”
“During these inspections and threats, children cry and start begging. The manager asks them whether their parents tore the pictures, or whether they did this themselves.”
Protest actions by schoolgirls have led to clashes with teachers and armed security forces, who have detained teenagers suspected of having taken part in demonstrations.
In late September, a riot squad stormed a secondary school in the eastern city of Iranshahr and severely beat a teenage girl, Parmis Hamnava, for tearing pictures of Islamic Republic founder Khomeini out of her schoolbooks. Hamnava later died in hospital.
The women-led protest movement that has rocked Iran for more than three months was triggered by the September death of a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, in the custody of morality police. She had been arrested for an alleged breach of the country’s strict dress code.
The demonstrations rapidly escalated into calls for an end to more than 40 years of clerical rule.
The security forces have unleashed a bloody crackdown on the demonstrations, killing more than 500 people and detaining over 18,000, human rights activists say.