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Urgent Review Into Sexual Abuse In Schools Launched After Thousands Of Allegations

by : Saman Javed on : 01 Apr 2021 08:53
Urgent Review Into Sexual Abuse In Schools Launched After Thousands Of AllegationsPA

An urgent review into sexual abuse in schools has been launched after thousands of allegations from students.

The government has asked Ofsted to undertake an ‘immediate review’ of the safeguarding policies in place in state and independent schools and to examine the extent and severity of sexual abuse.

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From today, April 1, students who have experienced sexual harassment or abuse can also contact a new helpline, run by the NSPCC, which will provide support and advice.

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An announcement from the Department for Education’s (DfE) yesterday, March 31, said it will not ‘hesitate to take action’ where schools are failing to meet safeguarding standards.

The review comes after a website set up for victims to anonymously share their experiences, Everyone’s Invited, received more than 12,000 testimonies, some from primary school-aged children.

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Education secretary Gavin Williamson said it is vital 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,’ he said.

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No child or young person should have to experience abuse,’ Williamson added, urging victims to speak to someone they trust, like a family member, friend or teacher.

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Wendy Mair, one of the organisers behind Everyone’s Invited, said the team was proud to have started a crucial conversation but disappointed that the DfE had not contacted them before the announcement.

‘We are encouraged to see that the government has responded and taken the first initial steps to review rape culture in all schools,’ she told BBC News.

The DfE said Ofsted’s review, which will speak to representatives from social care, police, victim support groups and schools and colleges will highlight key areas where improvements are needed. It is expected to conclude by May 31.

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Amanda Spelman, Ofsted’s chief inspector, said she was deeply troubled by the accounts of sexual assault and harassment.

‘Schools have a crucial role to play in teaching young people about sexual consent and respect for women and girls. They 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,’ she said.

Everyone’s Invited was founded in June 2020 by Soma Sara, after she shared her experience of sexual assault on Instagram. After receiving more than 300 testimonies from other survivors within a week, she launched Everyone’s Invited, a movement dedicated to eradicating rape culture.

If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact the Rape Crisis England and Wales helpline on 0808 802 9999 between 12pm–2.30pm and 7pm– 9.30pm every day. Alternatively, you can contact Victim Support free on 08 08 16 89 111 available 24/7, every day of the year, including Christmas.

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Topics: News, Now, Schools, Sexual abuse, sexual harassment

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BBC
  1. BBC

    Everyone's Invited: Schools abuse helpline and review launched