Incidents reported include name-calling, online abuse, unwanted touching, assault and rape
More than 850 calls, many alleging sexual abuse and harassment in schools, have been made to a national helpline set up after the Everyone’s Invited website revealed widespread sexism, misogyny and abuse in education.
A total of 150 were so serious that they have been referred to police and other agencies for further investigation, according to the NSPCC children’s charity, which runs the helpline.
The incidents reported include sexual name-calling, unwanted sexual touching, sexual assault and rape by other pupils, as well as online abuse such as sharing nude images without consent.
The helpline was launched in April and was due to run until the end of December, but the time limit has been extended in response to continuing demand. It will continue to operate “for the foreseeable future”, according to the NSPCC.
Kam Thandi, the head of the NSPCC helpline, said: “This helpline has been a lifeline for hundreds of people, many of whom had previously felt unable to reach out for help and support.”
According to the NSPCC, the helpline has handled a total of 861 contacts and, where information about the caller is known, 142 were from an adult or child victim, of whom 85 were female, 50 male, two transgender and five unknown. A further 81 contacts were from a parent concerned about their child.
The Report Abuse in Education helpline, funded by the Department for Education, was launched after thousands of anonymous testimonies of sexual abuse and harassment, mostly perpetrated by other young people, were posted on the Everyone’s Invited site. There are now more than 50,000 testimonies on the website.
Helpline staff have dealt with calls from victims of recent and historical abuse, helping them to report allegations to the authorities, signposting them to recovery services and supporting concerned parents.
The NSPCC said many victims who reported non-recent abuse said they felt they could not report it at the time, or they had tried and were not listened to. Concerned parents have also complained about the way some schools have handled safeguarding incidents, discouraging victims from taking action against a perpetrator out of fear it would ruin their education and life prospects.
Sandra Robinson, the NSPCC’s helpline manager, urged people to get in touch if they had concerns about the welfare of a young person in school or had experienced abuse themselves in the past.
“It has become clear through contacts to our dedicated helpline that many young people have endured abuse in schools over the decades and it is sadly a normalised part of everyday school life which has even evolved to include online abuse,” said Robinson.
The school standards minister, Baroness Barran, said the government had increased core funding to the NSPCC to £2.6m and had continued to remind schools of the importance of the relationships, sex and health education curriculum.
“The NSPCC’S Reporting Abuse in Education helpline has provided a vital service for children and adults affected by sexual abuse. That’s why I’m pleased to hear that the NSPCC has chosen to extend this service into the new year so more people can access that support.”
Young people and adults can contact Report Abuse in Education on 0800 136 663 or email firstname.lastname@example.org