The Telegraph are reporting that Children as young as five are being reported to police on suspicion of “sexual assault” according to new research, prompting claims that “common sense” is now being abandoned because of pressure on schools to act on allegations.
New figures from police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland show the number of sexual offence claims brought by or about schoolchildren almost trebling in the four years since the Jimmy Savile scandal first broke.
Lucy Russell, UK girls’ rights campaign manager at Plan International, said: “We are very concerned about these findings, sadly we are not really shocked because we have heard time and time again from girls in the UK that sexual harassment and sexual violence in schools is sadly quite commonplace.”
Prof Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research, at the University of Buckingham, said that while schools must protect children from sexual abuse, questions must also be asked about the dangers of over-reaction.
He said that applying “common sense” appears to be being over-ridden, with teachers and heads increasingly obliged pass allegations up the chain, escalating the situation in the process.
“Society has become very sensitive to sexual assault and sexual abuse and there is pressure on teachers to report every incident, if they don’t they are potentially at risk themselves.” he said.
Do you think we are reporting smaller offences or do you think the increase in numbers is due to an increase in sexual abuse? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter. ~ Sophie
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