Children’s Commissioner: Teachers should be trained to spot child sexual abuse

The TES is reporting that a new study from the Office of the Children’s Commissioner says children should be taught about relationships at school from the age of 5, and teachers should be trained to identify child sexual abuse.

Published today, it follows a major inquiry using data from every police force in England, which suggests that as few as one in eight victims of child sexual abuse come to the attention of the authorities. The report states that all school staff should be trained so they can act appropriately if a pupil tells them they have been abused.

The inquiry found that as many as 450,000 children had been sexually abused in the two years to March 2014, far more than the 50,000 cases recorded by police and local authorities.

Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, said survivors of sexual abuse had told the inquiry they did not know how to describe their experiences, that they did not know whether their experience constituted a healthy relationship or not, and that they were desperate for people to ask after their welfare.

Teenagers, victims and survivors of abuse said they would have had more confidence to reach out and discuss their concerns if they had been taught about relationships at a younger age.

The inquiry recommended compulsory lessons in schools on relationships and life, with teachers trained in how to deliver lessons in a meaningful way for children. It also said there should be “whole-school” approaches to child protection…

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the ATL teaching union, said: “We agree that teachers, and all school staff, should be trained to recognise the signs and symptoms of child sexual abuse and that this should form part of teachers’ professional development and initial training, whichever route they take into teaching…

More at: Children’s Commissioner: Teachers should be trained to spot child sexual abuse


Read or download the report in full:

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If correct, the suggestion that only one in eight cases of child sexual abuse are identified by the authorities is horrifying. 

Many have called for PSHE to be made compulsory through school – should this report become the tipping point to make that happen? And what about the suggestion that all teachers should be trained to spot abuse early on? 

Please give us your reactions in the comments or via Twitter…


Should all teachers be trained to spot signs of sexual abuse?


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  1. PSHE should be part of the core curriculum.  But it’s often pushed aside because of the over-emphasis on exam results in academic subjects.  Worse, it’s sometimes portrayed as ‘touchy-feely’ emotional claptrap, an invitation to promiscuity or a tool of the Devil.

    But sensitive PSHE can encourage abused children to come forward, allows all children to reflect on what are abusive and non-abusive relationships, and gives them the tools to reject abusive advances.

Let us know what you think...