The Contextual Safeguarding Network are delighted by the launch of new advice by the Department for Education (DfE) on Sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in schools and colleges, available here. This new advice document acknowledges the challenge that many schools and colleges face to tackle different forms of gendered violence and abuse between young people.
The guidance includes:
· Definitions of sexual violence and harassment
· Legal responsibilities for schools and colleges
· Whole-school approaches to preventing and tackling harm
· Responding to reports
We are particularly pleased to see that Contextual Safeguarding has remained in the guidance (page 15). The inclusion of Contextual Safeguarding recognises the challenge that schools face in responding to harm between students, both within and outside of the school, and the need for multi-agency connected responses. The acknowledgement by DfE of the need for contextualised assessments and interventions into sexual violence and harassment further supports schools and colleges to develop contextualised approaches to harm. The Contextual Safeguarding Network have developed a range of resources for schools and multi-agency partnerships that that can support them prevent and respond to sexual violence and harassment in schools, including a harmful sexual behaviour toolkit, assessment framework and students surveys, accessible here.
Additionally, DfE’s response to their consultation on Keeping Children Safe in Education, states that this statutory document will now include a new chapter on Child on child sexual violence and sexual harassment (part five). The addition of this new chapter recognises the need by schools and colleges for support in how to manage incidents of peer-on-peer sexual harassment and abuse, acknowledging the prevalence and impact of this form of harm, in addition to the advice they could previously access on allegations of abuse by staff. This statutory guidance will come into use on 3rd September 2018.
Research carried out by the University of Bedfordshire and those working in the field of gendered violence have long evidenced the prevalence of sexual harassment and violence in schools between young people. Practitioners from the Contextual Safeguarding Network regularly contact us asking for advice and support on how to prevent and respond to peer-on-peer abuse. We welcome this new advice which we hope will support schools to manage instances of peer-on-peer abuse and end sexual harm in schools.
The Contextual Safeguarding Network includes a range of resources and tools for schools available here:
· Beyond Referrals: Levers for addressing harmful sexual behaviours in schools
· School Assessment toolkit
· Farrer & Co: Peer-on peer abuse toolkit for schools