The TES reports that reports of sex offences in schools continue to rise, according to police figures obtained by a Tes investigation.
Police, teaching unions and children’s charities have suggested that online pornography and sexualised videos – which are easier for pupils to access on mobile devices – are partly to blame.
Tes submitted freedom of information requests to all 39 of England’s police forces. Of the 32 that responded, 24 provided comparable data. It reveals that:
The annual number of sex crimes reported in schools rose by 255 per cent in four years;
In 2016, the number of alleged sex offences in schools increased by 18 per cent compared with 2015;
In one area the number nearly trebled with a 189 per cent rise;
Overall, the figures suggest that teachers as well as pupils have been victims, with about one in 10 of the crimes committed against adults.
Earlier this year, the Department for Education (DfE) decided to make sex and relationships education (SRE) compulsory for all pupils – which was welcomed by unions and charities. The announcement followed a scathing report from the Commons Women and Equalities Committee, which warned that sexual harassment and abuse of female pupils in schools was “being accepted as part of daily life”.
Norfolk chief constable Simon Bailey, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for child abuse, said the rising number of sexual offences in schools could be partly due to more victims being prepared to report the crimes.
But he added that it is “clear that the increased availability of sexualised material, such as online pornography, poses a real threat to young people”.
Lucy Russell, campaign manager for children’s charity Plan UK, said the spike may have something to do with events outside schools. For example, sexual abuse allegations, predominantly concerning the abuse of children, against Jimmy Savile came to light at the end of 2012. At around the same time, the child exploitation scandals in Rotherham, Rochdale and Oxford were also reported widely across the media.
Ms Russell added: “I think that it did have a positive effect on increased reporting and it quite often gave young people the vocabulary to talk about it.”
Is this a wake up call for schools and colleges around the country? Have you seen evidence of this rise in your area? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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