Dozens of children from secondary and primary schools in Hampshire excluded for 'sexual misconduct'
DOZENS of children have been excluded from schools across Hampshire for sexual misconduct – including seven primary school-aged pupils, figures have revealed.
But charity Rape Crisis warned the numbers do not show the true scale of sexual abuse inside schools, following thousands of allegations by students across England, and that these statistics are just the tip of the iceberg.
Department for Education figures show Hampshire schools excluded students 36 times for sexual misconduct in 2018-19 – two permanently and 34 temporarily.
However, this was a decrease on the previous year, when there were 60.
Of the exclusions in 2018-19, the vast majority – 32 – occurred in state-funded secondary schools, two in special schools and two in primary schools.
Schools in Portsmouth, by contrast, have seen lower numbers of misconduct over the same period, with just one exclusion taking place in 2018-19 – the latest dates available.
However, between 2009 and 2019, schools in the city excluded pupils 37 times for sexual misconduct – one permanently and 36 temporarily.
And of these, six youngsters were from primary schools. A further five attended special schools and 26 from state-funded education sites.
Across England during 2018/19 1,972 children were excluded for sexual misconduct – which include incidents of sexual abuse, sexual bullying and sexual harassment.
Though a 13 per cent drop on the year before, Rape Crisis said the number of exclusions will not show the true scale of sexist bullying and sexual violence being perpetrated in schools, particularly against girls.
Katie Russell, national spokeswoman for the charity, added: ‘We’ve known for a number of years about the high prevalence and serious impacts of sexual violence and abuse in schools.
‘The women and equalities select committee published a comprehensive report into this issue with clear recommendations back in 2016, some of which are yet to be implemented.
‘No-one in the government can claim not to have known about this situation and action clearly should have been taken before now.’
More than 14,000 testimonies have been posted on the Everyone’s Invited website, where pupils can anonymously share their experiences of abuse and assault.
Some students have accused their establishments of not tackling a ‘rape culture’.
Website founder Soma Sara said the number of students who have the confidence to report incidences of sexual misconduct pales in comparison to the number who have suffered.
The government announced an immediate review into sexual abuse in schools in the wake of the allegations, while an NSPCC helpline and an Ofsted review were also launched.
Children's charity Barnardo’s said young victims of harmful sexual behaviour often feel embarrassed or fear they won’t be taken seriously.
Javed Khan, chief executive, said: ‘In some cases exclusions are necessary, but all children displaying inappropriate sexual behaviour must have access to therapeutic support so they can understand, confront and change their behaviour through trauma informed rehabilitation.’
He added that the introduction of statutory relationship education in September was an important step, but much more is needed to prevent harm.
A government spokeswoman said: ‘Where schools do not meet the strict safeguarding standards that we have in place, we will take swift action and we will always back headteachers to remove a pupil from the classroom where this creates a calm and disciplined environment.
‘We would encourage anyone who is aware of any specific incidents – and feels comfortable reporting their concerns – to do so.’
:: Help is available for children who have been victims of sexual abuse
:: The Lucy Faithful Foundation – 0808 1000 900
:: NSPCC has launched a dedicated helpline for children abused in school. For help, call 0800 136 663 or email [email protected]
:: Support for parents and carers of children who have been abused is provided by charity Mosac on: 0800 980 1958