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Seven Key Rules for How to Respond to Child-on-child Sexual Violence or Harassment

A young person confiding in you about child-on-child sexual violence or harassment can be one of the most difficult things you will have to deal with when working in an education setting. It can be difficult to know what action to take, how to support the young person and how you can implement preventative strategies within your school or college.

As part of the changes to Keeping Children Safe in Education in September 2018 which saw “Part Five: Child on Child Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment” included in the statutory guidance, safeguarding and duty of care experts, EduCare, have compiled seven key rules for effective reporting of child-on-child sexual violence and harassment.

Highlighting the importance that the Department for Education are now placing on peer-on-peer abuse, Part Five exists to provide guidance for schools and colleges on how they should respond to reports of child on child sexual violence and sexual harassment.

EduCare has created their seven key rules for effective reporting of child-on-child sexual violence and harassment. These are designed to assist individual staff members of schools and colleges in knowing how to act when confided in by a young person about child-on-child sexual violence or harassment.

Victims of sexual violence and harassment are likely to be stressed and upset. They may have been affected physically and verbally both face-to-face and online by an individual or by a group. Any allegation should be taken seriously, and the victim should be offered appropriate support. Whilst each report should be acted upon a case-by-case basis, EduCare’s rules serve as a good basis in knowing how to react.

We have taken a look at these below:

1. Act quickly and sensitively

If you are being informed about an ongoing issue, it is important that you act quickly to prevent further violence and harassment from taking place. Rather than making rash decisions, it is crucial that you act in a sensitive manner.

2. Reassure the young person

As the adult in a position of responsibility, it is your duty to reassure the young person that they have not done anything wrong by informing you and that you are taking steps to ensure that they will be safe from harm.

3. Do not promise confidentiality

Reassurance should be given to the victim that information will only be shared with those that will provide help and support. If a report has been made and as a result, there is a criminal investigation, the school or college should be aware that they must do all they can to protect the child’s anonymity.

Depending on the nature of the incident, it will have to be decided which staff should be aware and what support should be in place. Any support should be for both the victim and the alleged perpetrator. Rumours either in the school or college environment or via social networking should be monitored and dealt with.

You should refrain from using the name of the alleged perpetrator to the parents of the victim and likewise when meeting with the parents of the accused.

4. Only ask questions to obtain clarity

It is important that you only ask necessary questions and do not probe too much, as this could cause the young person to become uncomfortable and likely to withhold vital information.

The only questions you should ask are those to obtain facts which will be beneficial to any investigations into the violence or harassment which the young person has suffered.

5. Make a written record

In order to ensure you have every detail recorded, it is important that you make a written record of the facts you are told. When making notes you should not become distracted from what the young person is telling you, so you may consider writing up the report immediately after the disclosure.

It is crucial that you do not include your opinion as part of this. You should be aware that your report may become part of a criminal investigation.

When making a written record, the following points should be considered:

  • The age of the child or young person involved
  • Any power imbalance between the children
  • The nature of the alleged incident
  • The developmental stages of the children
  • Is the victim or are any other children at risk?
  • Has an allegation been made before?

6. Explain what the next steps are to the young person and who the report will be passed on to

To reassure the young person that you are treating what they have told you seriously and you will only be sharing it with people who will be able to help them, it is important that you explain the next steps of what will happen with them.

7. Follow the child protection policy for your organisation

Your school or college should have clear policies and procedures in place which should be followed when reporting and acting on allegations of sexual harassment and sexual violence.

These policies should include:

  • Behaviour policy
  • Child protection policy
  • Equality and diversity policy
  • Anti-bullying policy

Your school or college may also want to develop a peer-on-peer abuse policy.

When dealing with cases of sexual violence and sexual harassment, your school and college should feel confident in contacting the police and local authority social care department for advice and support.

Further support

Beyond the police and the local authority, further support can be obtained from the following organisations:

NSPCC: Helpline for professionals 0808 800 5000 or email [email protected]

Rape Crisis: Help and support – 0808 802 9999
Rape Crisis website

The Survivors Trust: Offers support for sexual violence and abuse. Support, advice and information – 0808 801 0818
The Survivors Trust Website

The UK Safer Internet Centre: Helpline for professionals regarding online safety 0344 381 4772 or email [email protected]

UKCCIS Sexting Advice: The UK Council for Child Internet Safety is a group of organisations working help keep children safe online
UKCCIS website

The Anti-Bullying Alliance: Provide support to professionals
Anti-Bullying Alliance Website

The above information has been taken from EduCare’s training course, Sexual Violence and Harassment between Children and Young People.

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