Abuse in schools helpline gets hundreds of calls
By Gemma Raw
The NSPCC's Report Abuse in Education helpline has seen a large amount of activity since its launch earlier this year.
Well over 400 children and young people called the helpline between its launch on 1 April and the NSPCC's most recent update on 7 June. 366 of the calls related to sexual abuse and exploitation with references to harmful sexual behaviour and peer abuse. 80 contacts led to a referral to an external agency, such as social services.
Aimed mainly at children and young people who've experienced sexual harassment or abuse at school or college, the helpline is staffed by experts with experience in a range of professional social care roles. Cases of abuse or neglect may be referred by the NSPCC to other professionals, such as social workers or police. The line is also open to parents and teachers who need support and guidance.
A widespread problem
The Report Abuse in Education helpline was commissioned by the Department of Education after a high number of anonymous reports of sexual abuse in schools and colleges were submitted to the Everyone's Invited website.
The Government also asked Ofsted to carry out an urgent review of sexual abuse in schools and colleges. Their report, published in June, made uncomfortable reading for everyone from parents and teachers to social care professionals.
On visits to 32 schools and colleges, Ofsted inspectors were told by girls that sexual harassment and online abuse are much more prevalent than adults realise. Almost 90% of girls and nearly 50% of boys said that being sent explicit pictures or videos of things they did not want to see happens a lot or sometimes to them or other children they know. Most worryingly for parents, teachers or anyone working in professional social work jobs, many children and young people said that sexual harassment had become so frequent that it had become 'commonplace'.
The report recommended that multi-agency partners, such as social workers, should work to improve engagement with schools of all types in their local area. This is supported by the rollout of NHS education Mental Health Support Teams.
The NSPCC has also created a range of resources for leaders in schools and colleges to share details of the helpline with students and colleagues. These include a poster, as well as a post and images for social media channels. You can download these resources here.
Young people and adults can contact the NSPCC Report Abuse in Education helpline on 0800 136 663 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.