Sexual abuse in schools has made headline news as thousands of allegations have been made by pupils on a website gathering testimonies.
There were reports of sexual violence and abuse on the Everyone’s Invited site, founded by Soma Sara.
Norfolk Chief Constable Simon Bailey blamed the volume of pornographic material being consumed.
The former teacher, school governor, and mother of four, has interviewed several survivors of sexual assault and found a common theme was a fear of speaking out.
They have shared their stories on Mental Health Chats series to encourage others to come forward and for those in safeguarding positions to spot the signs.
I have also been working with the charity Safe and Free, which tackles human trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation.
Children are at greater risk of harm as their lives move increasingly online during the COVID-19 pandemic, child protection bodies have warned.
More reliance on digital platforms for learning, entertainment and communication can lead to increased safety risks.
Safe and Free has released a free educational resource for schools – to educate on ways grooming, child sexual exploitation (CSE) and trafficking can take place.
Studies have found those sexually abused as children show an increased likelihood of being revictimized later in life. It may lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which could affect future reactions to trauma.
John Piekos, a former senior detective who set up Safe and Free 10 years ago, said: “Vulnerability doesn’t end as soon as a person is no longer abused, exploited or trafficked. Damaged by their experience, they may become vulnerable to be singled out and targeted again.”
But he warns that anyone can be made vulnerable.
He has put together Safe and Free’s ten tips for safeguarding children.
Support and resources available for anyone affected by this topic:
- Clare Davis offers training to help people have difficult conversations and runs free Mental Health Chats, as well as a free 21-day programme to work on issues such as self-worth and healing.
- SARSAS offers support for people who have experienced rape, sexual assault or abuse at any time in their lives:
- The Somerset Phoenix Project works alongside professionals and supports children, young people and families affected by sexual abuse. It provides free guide booklets for professionals, parents and carers and children and young people.
- Safe and Free offers a free education pack for schools to help prevent child sexual exploitation.
- Barnardo’s is charity working to protect young people.
- Victim Focus was founded by Dr Jessica Taylor and has launched a charter to encourage professionals to reduce victim-blaming. It includes free resources and access to research, including a ‘Caring for yourself after Sexual Violence’ course.