Safeguarding Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment

The Safeguarding Self-Assessment Audit was completed by schools in the summer term. Analysis of the submitted audits highlighted themes and good practice.

Following on from January’s article, this bulletin focuses on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment.

It was highlighted that the majority of schools actively operate under the assumption that sexual harassment and abuse “is happening here”. A significant number of schools, particularly primary, responded that they had no cases or that incidents are incredibly rare, without expanding on how they know or can be confident that this is the case. Conversely, some schools that reported no cases were able to describe activities that demonstrated an approach of professional curiosity, clear understanding and belief that just because cases haven’t been reported in school incidents might have happened/be happening.

Several secondary school responses indicated that during the pandemic lockdown periods, there had been an increase in incidences of inappropriate online activity, including online sexual harassment, the sharing of nude images, and sexualised language.

Below are examples of some of the processes schools have in place to encourage a culture where all staff have the belief of ‘it can happen here’. Also some approaches schools are using to support children and young people to understand harmful sexual behaviour and the methods that can be put in place for them to feel confident to report it:

A number of schools reported they had introduced a confidential route for pupils/students to report concerns, such as, a designated email address, text message, or the use of virtual platforms or apps. These methods make it simple for pupils/students to report anything from bullying to mental health concerns. One example of an app being used successfully was Toot Toot, a simple-to-use app which makes it easier for pupils/students to speak up and gives them confidence that their concerns are being taken seriously. A school using this shared that they had introduced this reporting method in direct response to listening to what students were telling them they wanted. They have subsequently reported to us that use of the app has led to students reporting the sharing of inappropriate sexual content and enabled staff to swiftly deal with the reported incident.

Some schools have offered additional subject specific training  to staff through organisations such as Feminista, National College, and NSPCC. Other courses can be found through the Harmful Sexualised Behaviour team’s portal, the link is  Harmful Sexual Behaviour (HSB) – Suffolk Youth Justice Service

Another school shared that they had developed a bespoke Harmful Sexual Behaviour (HSB) training for Governors. We are aware that schools were asking where they can access HSB training aimed at governors. We would like to hear from any schools that have developed resources or approaches that they would be willing to share with colleagues in other schools through peer-to-peer support.

Some schools reported having identified a designated safe space to be available at breaks and lunchtimes, supervised by a member of the pastoral team, so pupils/students can share and discuss concerns with a staff member who can provide appropriate advice and support.

Schools have shared many examples of how they have adapted their approach and practice to respond to the issue of HSB. If there is something that your school would like to share or would like more information on, please contact our team at [email protected]

Useful Links

The link to the Harmful Sexual Behaviour Service Harmful Sexual Behaviour (HSB) – Suffolk Youth Justice Service

There is useful information on this portal that helps define the different behaviours that can be displayed and the resources available, if behaviours are identified as inappropriate, usually some education is all that is needed to ensure a child is aware of the concerns and what is expected of them instead. However, if the behaviour is identified as problematic, abusive, or harmful a more specialist assessment will be needed to identify the correct support and intervention for everyone involved.

You can find the link to the referral form on the portal.

The Schools RSHE Portal is a FREE hub provided by Public Health & Communities (part of Suffolk County Council) available to ALL Suffolk schools (including academies and independent schools).