On 30 March I wrote a blog about concerns over sexual abuse in schools. This followed the high number of allegations posted on the Everyone’s Invited website which led the government to ask Ofsted to carry out a review of sexual harassment and abuse in schools and colleges.
Ofsted has now published their report which found that nearly 80 percent of girls had been subject to a sexual assault and over 60 per cent had been subjected to unwanted touching.
30 schools (state and independent) and 2 further education colleges were visited by inspectors who also spoke to 900 students.
The concern is that sexual harassment has become widespread and normalised. For example, about 9 in 10 of girls spoken to referred to being sent unwanted explicit pictures and videos. A significant problem was reported at every school visited. There were also concerns that students were often not reporting abuse as they didn’t see any point in doing so and many teachers were underestimating the scale of the problem.
RHSE (relationships, sex and health in education) is compulsory in schools but most students felt that it did not deal with the real issues they faced and teachers did not feel that they had sufficient knowledge to deal with some topics such as consent and the sharing of sexual images.
The report has called for headteachers to ensure that sex education taught in schools allows enough time to cover consent and showing explicit images (which has become an increased issue) and also ensures that all kinds of sexual harassment are addressed and dealt with. It also highlighted wider issues in relation to online bullying and abuse.
Ministers have said that schools and colleges will be encouraged to help staff deal with sexual abuse among pupils in specific training days.
The NSPCC helpline, which was set up at the request of the government, will stay open until October.
In terms of civil options, a claim against an institution for abuse by pupil on pupil abuse is possible and will depend upon the facts of the case. It is necessary to prove that the institution knew or ought to have known what was happening but did nothing to prevent it. Consideration can also be given to bringing a claim against the perpetrator of the abuse and a claim to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority is also an option which can be considered.
I have dealt with a number of claims of pupil on pupil abuse and continue to act for clients who have suffered this type of abuse.
Switalskis have many years of experience in acting for victims of abuse, including those at schools and colleges. If you would like to speak to one of our experienced team of solicitors for advice we can guarantee that you will be dealt with sensitively and with the utmost confidence.
If you would like to contact Samantha Follows confidentially her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org