NSPCC launches new helpline to help victims of sexual harassment and abuse in schools

A new NSPCC‪ helpline for sexual harassment and abuse in schools will launch today to provide both children and adults who are victims of sexual abuse in schools with the appropriate support and advice. This includes how to contact the police and report crimes if they wish.

The helpline will also provide support to parents and professionals too.

The government has also asked Ofsted to undertake an immediate review of safeguarding policies in state and independent schools.

The review to look at the extent and the severity of the issue and ensure schools have appropriate processes in place to allow pupils to report concerns freely, knowing these will be taken seriously and dealt with swiftly and appropriately.

It will make sure there is sufficient guidance on how schools should deal with sexual harassment and violence allegations, and whether the current inspection regimes in both state and private schools are strong enough to address concerns and promote the welfare of children.

Ofsted will work with representatives from social care, police, victim support groups, school and college leaders and the Independent Schools Council. The review will conclude by end of May 2021 and will seek to establish where safeguarding arrangements and processes are good and have worked well and where improvements are needed.

Both the helpline and review come after numerous anonymous testimonials of sexual harassment and abuse were submitted to the website Everyone’s Invited.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “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.

“No child or young person should have to experience abuse. But if something isn’t right, they should speak to someone they trust to raise concerns, whether that’s family, a friend, teacher or social worker, helpline or the police.”

The announcement follows the publication of the government’s Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Strategy in January. The strategy will galvanise a whole-system response that brings together agencies, sectors and society to tackle child sexual abuse, as well as a focus on prevention and early intervention, to help protect children and empower professionals, parents and carers to keep them safe.  

It will also help victims and survivors of child sexual abuse to rebuild their lives by boosting investment in specialist sexual violence support services delivered by the voluntary sector, as well as support victims and survivors through the court process with the new and revised Victim’s Code and consultation on a Victims’ Law.

Ofsted and the Independent Schools Inspectorate will inspect any schools where there are concerns and ensure they either improve their practices or are forced to close.

All schools are also now required to provide relationships and sex and education to all secondary pupils and relationships education to all primary age pupils. Important issues such as personal privacy, respect and consent to ensure that more young people have a better understanding of how to behave towards their peers, are part of the guidance to ensure more young people have a better understanding of how to behave towards their peers, including online.

The dedicated NSPCC helpline number is 0800 136 663, which will be live from today (Thursday 1 April). Anyone with concerns should visit to find out how to get help: https://stopabusetogether.campaign.gov.uk/

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