Today, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has published its Residential Schools report.
IICSA PRESS RELEASE: Schools reluctant to report child sexual abuse by staff and pupils, report finds
A new report from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse highlights shocking and horrific instances of child sexual abuse in schools, with some teachers exploiting their positions of trust to groom and abuse children across all types of educational settings examined by the Inquiry.
Understandably, much of the commentary around Everyone’s Invited focusses on what is perceived to be cultural issues affecting young people, and what schools can do to foster a positive culture and address a negative one. Linking specific harm to alleged failures in that task will always be difficult, as in the related area of school bullying. This should not obscure the fact that there are mistakes schools could make which, whilst not establishing a direct legal liability for the wrongs of pupils, could readily produce sufficient causal link to create liability.
As noted in our earlier blogs the sheer number of testimonies shared on the ‘Everyone’s Invited’ website strongly suggests that rape culture is prevalent not only in universities and independent schools, but also in the state education sector. Over 50 state schools have been named. Many education authorities are only now becoming cognisant of the extent of its existence and, as a result, the liabilities to which they may be exposed. State schools will be part of Ofsted’s focus as much as the independent sector.
It goes without saying that state education establishments have a statutory duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of the children at their establishment. Schools and colleges, and of course their staff, form part of the wider safeguarding system for children and all those who come into contact with such children have a role to play.
The movement, Everyone’s Invited, seeks to provide education on the ‘complex reality of rape culture’ and to promote the need for the issue to be tackled across the education sector.
In an interview to the BBC, Soma Sara advised of the “normalising and trivialising” of incidents such as groping, revenge-porn and non-consensual sharing of intimate photos, potentially creating a “gateway to more extreme criminal acts”.
IICSA recently released its research report titled ‘Child Sexual Abuse in the Context of Schools’, which presents the Inquiry’s findings about the experiences of victims and survivors of child sexual abuse in the context of schools.
The researchers examined the experiences of sexual abuse across several school settings including residential, non-residential, independent and state schools.
Male pupils made up the majority of those who reported abuse to IICSA’s ‘Truth Project’, and accounted for over 75% of all pupils who reported being abused, in independent and special schools. Fifty four percent of the research participants, who were sexually abused in state schools were female.
Following agreement at a roundtable meeting, the High Court yesterday approved a five figure settlement in a case involving a local authority defendant where a six year old girl disclosed she had been repeatedly sexually abused by two boys at school in 2015. The local authority agreed the settlement without admission of liability.