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Peer on peer abuse.

All children and young people are capable of abusing their peers. 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 peer on peer abuse in their school policies and procedures and all school staff need to be aware of this guidance or policy, ensuring they are part of their practice.

These should include:

  • procedures to minimise the risk of peer on peer 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 of peer on peer 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

The guidance and policy has been updated for 2021/2022. This version includes:

  • a new Stop It Now traffic light tool
  • a new risk assessment tool to use, In-School Health, Wellbeing and Safety Plan. This is for low level behaviours; if the child/ren are under the age of criminal responsibility; part of gathering information for Early Help assessment
  • the peer on peer abuse model policy now includes race hate and racism and responses to tackling racism and hate crime

Harmful Sexual Behaviour Support Service

South West Grid for Learning (SWGfL) and the Marie Collins Foundation have launched a brand new support service to support professionals working with children and young people around tackling harmful sexual behaviour incidents, funded by the Home Office and in collaboration with the Department for Education (DfE).

The Harmful Sexual Behaviour Support Service has been provided in response to concern about harmful sexual behaviour in schools. It also provides advice and guidance to professionals around handling these types of incidents.

The Harmful Sexual Behaviour Support Service is there to support anyone in England who works with children and young people (in particular, professionals in a designated safeguarding position). If you work in a primary school, secondary school, college, early years setting or work within a wider safeguarding area (Police, social carers, health care professionals) then the service is available to you. If children within your care have been displaying or are affected by specific incidents of Harmful Sexual Behaviour, the support service can provide initial support and signpost to further resources and advice.

It is open from 8am - 8pm, Monday to Friday. Those who need advice can either email at: or telephone 0344 2250623. You can find out more on the SWGfL website.

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. 

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