Helpline to support victims of abuse in schools receives hundreds of calls

9th November, 2021 9:52 am

Nearly 800 cases involving adult and child victims of sexual abuse in schools have been handled by a dedicated helpline in the six months since it was set up.

The latest figures from the NSPCC’s Report Abuse in Education helpline show there were 784 contacts from its launch in April to October, of which 138 were serious enough to be referred to health services, a local authority or the police.

In cases where information was known about the caller to the helpline, 137 of these contacts were from an adult or child victim of abuse in education.

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There were 82 contacts made by female victims, 48 from male victims and two from victims that identified as transgender.

There was also a month on month increase of 15 per cent in the number of contacts from a parent concerned about their child, rising from 67 to 79 cases.

The helpline, a joint initiative with the Department for Education, was announced by the government earlier this year as part of its response to support victims of sexual harassment and abuse in education settings.

The NSPCC, which runs the support service on behalf of the DfE, says it follows thousands of testimonies of sexual abuse and harassment, mostly perpertrated by peers, that were posted on the Everyone’s Invited website.

The website, set up in June 2020 as a place for survivors of abuse to share their experiences, has seen more than 54,000 victims posting their personal testimonies.

These included reports about sexual name calling, unwanted sexual touching, sexual assualt and rape by other pupils as well as online abuse such as sharing nude images without consent, the NSPCC said.

The helpline has received calls about both recent and non-recent cases of abuse with adults abused as children saying they felt they could not report it at the time or tried to but were not listened to.

In other cases, adults witnessed incidents but did not act on it, the charity added.

Furthermore, some victims told the helpline they were discouraged from taking action out of fear it would ruin their education and life prospects.

Callers to the helpline are given professional support and advice that includes how to contact the police and report a crime.

It also aims to provide support to parents and professionals working with children and young people.

At the same time as the helpline was announced, the government said it had asked Ofsted to undertake an immediate review of safeguarding policies in state and independent schools over responses to allegations of sexual abuse.

The review, scheduled to end in May, was expected to examine the “extent and severity” of the issue and ensure schools were equipped to allow pupils to report concerns “freely, knowing these will be taken seriously and dealt with swiftly and appropriately”.

Source: Children & Young People Now

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