In school it is not the normal, healthy and appropriate behaviours which concern us but those which appear to fit outside what you’d expect to be normal.
HSB covers a wide spectrum of behaviour including sharing inappropriate images online and ‘sexting’.
A cross-party parliamentary inquiry in partnership with Barnardo’s has issued a detailed and very helpful report on this important issue, exploring the impact of technology and the internet on how we understand, prevent and respond to HSB. Proportionate responses are necessary. One of the recommendations for schools is to use multi-agency working to improve support for parents in spotting early warning signs and keeping their children safe from HSB and restricting access to inappropriate online content.
Children engaging in HSB are likely to have already suffered abuse and trauma themselves and be in desperate need of help. Criminalising or stigmatizing them will only lead to their propensity to re-offend. Access to high quality specialist support addressing causes of behaviour, will allow them to thrive and lead healthy lives.
The report title is fitting: “Now I know it was wrong”. School is where we can help increase all children’s knowledge and understanding of safe and healthy relationships. Furthermore, the understanding of staff in school and responding to HSB effectively can be an essential strand in prevention of child sexual exploitation.