The government has set up a dedicated NSPCC helpline number to support children and adults affected by sexual abuse and harassment in education centres.
The free helpline is for victims of abuse as well as parents and professionals seeking support. It will provide information about how to contact the police and report crimes, as well as help and advice to callers. The helpline went live on 1 April 2021.
Review of safeguarding in all schools
The government has asked Ofsted to conduct an immediate review of safeguarding policies and procedures in both state and independent schools to establish where safeguarding arrangements are good and working well and identify where improvements are needed. The report will conclude by the end May 2021. Following the review, schools unable to make improvements to meet minimum standards risk closure.
Both measures are in response to reports of abuse submitted to the website Everyone’s Invited which was launched in 2020 and now has over 11,000 anonymous testimonials, many from students reporting experiences at schools and universities.
Tackling child abuse
On 22 January 2021, the government published its strategy on tackling child abuse to help protect children and empower professionals, parents and carers to keep them safe. The strategy outlines a cross-sector approach to drive change, spanning agencies, charities, communities, technology companies and society more widely, naming three objectives:
Tackling all forms of child abuse and bringing offenders to justice;
Preventing offending and re-offending;
Protecting and safeguarding children and young people , and supporting all victims and survivors.
The strategy includes better education for children and young people about healthy relationships, both in person and online. Steps towards this had already been taken with the launch of the compulsory Relationships, Sex and Health Education (“RSHE”) curriculum in all secondary schools as of the new academic year starting September 2020, designed to supplement information provided by parents and carers as the primary educators in relationship matters.
Relationship, sex and health education
RSHE is intended to cover 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. It is recognised that many schools provide excellent relationships and sex education and the new curriculum is designed to ensure consistent high standards across all schools, with specific guidance on issues that are difficult to discuss. Covid 19 restrictions have meant some schools have delayed delivery of classes covering sensitive topics until students return to face-to-face teaching in the classroom.
Does your teen know where to get help?
We encourage all parents to ensure your teen is aware of this free helpline number and where to find it or, better still, get them to add it to contacts on their phone.
Find out more
More details can be found on the government website.
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