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Information and guidance

All children and young people are capable of abusing each other. This can manifest itself in a whole spectrum of behaviours including:

  • sexual violence and harassment
  • physical abuse
  • on-line sexual offences (technology assisted harmful sexual behaviour)
  • initiation or hazing type violence and rituals
  • prejudice based bullying, racism, and race hate

All schools need to include child on child abuse in their school policies and procedures and all schools staff need to be aware of this guidance and what to do if they are concerned about child on child abuse.

These should include:

  • procedures to minimise the risk of child on child abuse
  • how allegations are recorded, investigated and dealt with
  • clear processes, including risk assessments, as to how victims, perpetrators and any other children affected will be supported
  • that responses to sexual violence and sexual harassment between children of the same sex is as equally robust as it is for sexual violence and sexual harassment between children of the opposite sex
  • recognition of the gendered nature child on child abuse, but recognising that all forms of this behaviour are unacceptable and will be taken seriously
  • that all schools should have strategies in place around wider behaviours including on-line sexual offences, sexual harassment and sexual violence.

Stop Abuse Together

The UK Government has also launched a new advice and support site to help keep children safe from sexual abuse. The site includes advice for parents and carers on spotting the signs of sexual abuse and speaking to your child about relationships and safety. It also signposts to sources of further support for children, adults and professionals including the NSPCC helpline and Childline.

The dedicated and confidential NSPCC helpline 'Report Abuse in Education' provides both children and adults, who have experienced sexual abuse in schools, with support and advice, including onward action such as contacting the police if they wish to. The helpline also provides support to parents and professionals. Anyone who gets in touch through this dedicated helpline will also be signposted to other relevant support services available, including Childlinewhich provides ongoing support and counselling to children and young people. The Report Abuse in Education helpline can be reached by telephone: 0800 136 663 or by email at help@nspcc.org.uk.

Speak out Stay safe (SOSS) - The NSPCC Speak out Stay safe programme (previously assemblies; now an online programme) helps children to understand that they always have a right to feel safe, and that they can speak to a trusted adult or Childline if they ever need help or support. It helps them understand that abuse is never their fault and that they have the right to be safe. An overview of the Speak out Stay safe programme is available on the NSPCC website, and you can find out more about the programme, including how to register and re-register.

NSPCC has also developed a special version of Speak Out Stay Safe specifically designed for schools who work with pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). The 6-session programme is designed for use with children who have mild to moderate learning disabilities or who have an autism spectrum condition.

Useful information

NSPCC Pants resources for parents

Stop It Now! parents toolkit

NSPCC Harmful Sexual Behaviours Framework - an evidence-informed framework for children and young people displaying harmful sexual behaviours.

Harmful sexual behaviour research and resources - Child protection research, leaflets, guidance, evaluations and safeguarding resources on harmful sexual behaviour. Children and young people who develop harmful sexual behaviour harm themselves and others. 

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