Mandatory Reporting for Sexual Abuse 

In this blog, we explore the new rules around mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse and what this means for schools.
Hands typing on a keyboard.
Share Post:

The Government’s consultation on Mandatory Reporting for Child Sexual Abuse has concluded and they have published a response.  It covers the main themes raised by those who completed the consultation: Impact on children and young people, Preparing for the duty, Wider impacts and Alignment with other reforms and strategy.    

The amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill is ‘A person aged 18 or over must make a notification under this section if, while engaging in a relevant activity in England, the person is given reason to suspect that a child sex offence may have been committed (at any time).’  

What does it mean for us working in schools?

Unlike the mandatory reporting for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), which is only applicable to teachers, the reporting of Child Sexual Abuse will cover a much wider range of professionals, including all education staff and volunteers.  This will undoubtably require preparation and training within schools to ensure everyone is aware of the changes and their responsibilities. 

The response also references the need for the Department of Education to consider how the curriculum requirements for relationships, health and sex education (RHSE) may need to be edited to reflect this change. 

The reason

The Mandatory Reporting Duty was 1 of 20 recommendations that was made by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.  Part of the conclusion of this Inquiry was that ‘Children are sexually abused every day in England and Wales.’ 

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), an estimated 3.1 million adults in England and Wales have been sexually abused before the age of 16. 

One estimate suggests that the number of children abused in a single year is around 500,000. 

Other estimates suggest that around 1 in 6 girls and 1 in 20 boys are sexually abused before the age of 16. 

Over 7,000 children were referred to sexual assault referral centres (SARCs) in England during 2020/21, 20 percent more than in the previous year. This equates to nearly 20 referrals each day. Half of these referrals were for children aged 14 to 17, five out of six of whom were female. 

There has also been a significant rise in online-facilitated child sexual abuse in England and Wales, as well as globally, and in the estimated number of perpetrators who pose a sexual risk to children. 

As with all abuse looking at these figures is not the whole story, as the UK government acknowledged in its Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Strategy (2021): 

“it is difficult to truly understand the scale of offending and how many victims and survivors remain unidentified because of under-reporting, under-identification of victims and survivors by agencies, and a lack of robust survey data.” 

What next

Ultimately this is all about safeguarding children, which all those who work and volunteer in schools should already have knowledge of.  However, we are going to need to look at safeguarding policies and procedures to ensure they reflect the mandatory reporting duty. 

As we often say when delivering safeguarding training, ‘you cannot be experts in everything’, so now may be the time to look at what services and charities are available to support in this area. 

The Flying Child is a survivor-led, non-profit organisation, founded by Sophie Olson – a survivor of intrafamilial Child Sexual Abuse.  Their core aim is to normalise speaking about child sexual abuse, in society, in professional settings and within the survivor community itself.  They do this with Lived experience training, Peer Support and Campaigning. 

I recently listened to a BBC Radio episode Sophie recorded where she mentions reaching out to a previous teacher, who knew her at 9 years old, during the worst of her abuse.  They remembered Sophie as ‘someone troubled, quite nervous and your demeanour was cowering’, however nothing was done at the time and nobody spoke to Sophie. Therefore, her abuse continued. 

We are privileged to have The Flying Child as one of our Keynote Speakers at this year’s Safeguarding Conference which has the theme of ‘Reducing Harm Through Education’. We look forward to hearing from Sophie, and most importantly, what we as professionals need to be aware of so that no child becomes a victim of Child Sexual Abuse. 

Here’s the link to get an Early bird ticket price for our Safeguarding Conference: 

Enquiry Form

Please complete the form below and we will get in contact as soon as we can to help you with your query.

In other news

Login to your account

Search our website

Request a brochure

Please fill in your details below to receive our free brochure.

Sign up to our Newsletter

Please fill in your details below to sign up to our newsletter.

Request a call back

Please fill in your details below to receive a call back from a member of our team.