After thousands of online testimonies, Ofsted’s chief inspector, Amanda Spielman, comments on sexual abuse in schools. Sexual abuse among pupils could be ‘happening outside of school’ suggests Ofsted’s chief inspector.
More than 10,000 young people have anonymously shared their personal experiences of sexual abuse on a website called Everyone’s Invited. The website was created to tackle rape culture through conversation, education and support. Many bold young people are using the platform to expose the school or university the abuse happened at, or the institution the perpetrator attended. The testimonials opened up a larger conversation about rape culture in school.
Sexual Abuse in Schools
Amanda Spielman said the testimonials have shown a ‘crossover between things happening outside of school bleeding into children’s lives within school because images or videos are brought in on mobile phones.’
She added: ‘I think we’re seeing a blurring of in and out of school – we can’t see them as separate.’
Many institutions were accused and of upholding ‘rape culture’ after their responses to sexual abuse testimonies. Spielman added that the internal culture problems within individual educational institutions cannot be solely blamed for the harsh realities of misogyny, harassment, abuse and assault many young people are experiencing. She did highlight the widespread issue concerning the scale of serious unreported incidents to schools.
She said: ‘Many of these schools think that they have good routes – people that children can trust, who they can talk to – and yet somehow it’s not always adding up, that’s what’s clear, so (we will look at) how we make sure the pieces add up to something that gives young people to report and talk about these things.’
‘I have been deeply troubled by the allegations of sexual abuse posted on the Everyone’s Invited website. Many of the testimonies reveal that girls have not felt able to report incidents of sexual abuse to their schools’.
The Department for Education (DfE) announced that there would be urgent Ofsted investigations in the instituations with sexual abuse allegations. Ofsted Inspectors will be sent in to review how private and state schools in England are handling sexual assault and harassment among their pupils.
The announcement was welcomed by the organisers of the Everyone’s Invited and the NSPCC, who has launched a dedicated helpline to support the victims of such abuse.
Founder of Everyone’s Invited, Soma Sara said: “We are surprised that Ofsted wants to focus on the schools named on Everyone’s Invited as we believe they should take a random sample of schools across the UK.”
The Ofsted Investigation should be completed by May and will consist of reviewing the safeguarding policies and practices of 25-30 schools. The review will establish whether the current safeguarding guidelines are sufficient and give institutions the opportunity to ‘respond effectively’ to allegations. Institutions will be offered extra support in teaching students about sex, relationships and sexual abuse.
Ms Spielman said the review will ‘put together a wider picture’ of the widespread problem.
Spielman added: “We hope that by listening to young people’s experiences first-hand, this review will provide much-needed insight into what these barriers are and how they can be overcome.”
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