By Alyson Knowles on 06 Apr 2021
The Government with the support of the NSPCC have launched a review into sexual abuse and harassment in schools and educational settings. This will take place in conjunction with a support line to provide help, support and guidance for both children and adults who have been victim of sexual abuse and harassment.
The investigation follows on from experiences reported to the organisation Everyone’s Invited founded by Soma Sara in June 2020. Soma initially shared her experiences of rape culture, sexual harassment and sexual abuse online. This resonated with many and has now led to over 12,600 testimonies being reported through their website.
The testimonies range from inappropriate comments from peers to threats of assault and blackmail, to accounts of repeated violent acts of rape and abuse.
The organisation provides a platform for victims to report and share their experiences of sexual abuse and harassment in all forms. Everyone’s Invited provides an anonymous submission form which can be accessed through their website. The website also publishes the testimonies they have collected so far and spreads the message that victims are not alone.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4 this morning Ruth Nicholson, NSPCC Helpline Manager spoke to presenters about the launch of the telephone helpline which will provide advice and guidance to victims both children who are experiencing abuse now and adults who have historically experienced sexual abuse and harassment. The advice and support line will provide support to children, young people and adults and help those who wish to report a crime to the Police. The NSPCC will also provide guidance and advice to both professionals and very importantly to parents.
Ofsted Review and Assessment
Alongside the support line, a review of safeguarding policy and procedures in schools and provisions will take place conducted by Ofsted. Ofsted will work in collaboration with victim support organisations and leaders in schools and colleges. Concluding in May 2021, the review hopes to ensure that national and local safeguarding policies and procedures are doing all they can to highlight the issue, support children and young people, prevent abuse and educate parents, children and professionals.
Both Gavin Williamson, Education Secretary and Amanda Spielman, Ofsted Chief Inspector have spoken out about their horror and how they are deeply troubled about the high level of sexual abuse which has taken place:
Gavin Williamson advises:
“Sexual abuse in any form is abhorrent and it is vital that these allegations are dealt with properly. While the majority of schools take their safeguarding responsibilities extremely seriously, I am determined to make sure the right resources and processes are in place across the education system to support any victims of abuse to come forward.
This Government is committed to ensuring victims feel supported to refer the most serious allegations to the police via the helpline, safe in the knowledge that everything possible will be done to bring offenders to justice.”
Amanda Spielman supports this view:
“Schools have a crucial role to play in teaching young people about sexual consent and respect for women and girls. There must also be places where all children feel safe, and where they are able to report any incidents of abuse or harassment and be confident that what they say will be acted upon.”
The review follows the publication of Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Strategy in January 2021 and hopes to create a multi-agency, whole system response to sexual harassment and abuse experienced by children and young people. The Strategy hopes to support victims & survivors of abuse by coordinated working with victim support agencies, looking at the currently legal process and provide a financial boost to tackling abuse. Many schools have a strict high standard of safeguarding; however, the Government, Department for Education and Ofsted will challenge those provisions which are failing in this duty.
The Helpline is now live and further information can be found below. As professionals we need to help facilitate this conversation - supporting the Government, Ofsted and the NSPCC to bring these experiences out of the shadows.
- NSPCC Sexual Abuse and Harassment Helpline - 0800 136 663 email@example.com.
- Department for Education & Gavin Williamson: Press Release https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-launches-review-into-sexual-abuse-in-schools
- Tackling Sexual Abuse Strategy, January 2021 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/tackling-child-sexual-abuse-strategy
- Everyone’s Invited https://www.everyonesinvited.uk/