A helpline and government inquiry have launched after a #MeToo movement in UK schools saw more than 12,000 school pupils make allegations of sexual violence in their place of learning.
Launched following thousands of such submissions to the movement website, the new Report Abuse in Education helpline launched on April 1 and will be run by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC). It will offer support to children and young people making disclosures of abuse — both current and non-recent – in addition to young people and children who want to discuss being involved in or witnessing abuse.
The helpline will also provide support to adults who’ve experienced non-recent abuse, parents and caregivers who have concerns about their children or other children, and professionals who work in schools and need support on this issue.
Young people and adults in the UK can contact the NSPCC helpline on 0800 136 663 or email [email protected]
A new dedicated helpline has been set up by the @NSPCC to help victims of sexual abuse, both recent or historically, in independent or state schools.
It can provide support and advice, including how to contact the police and report crimes. pic.twitter.com/Bgj7loQCuK
— Department for Education (@educationgovuk) April 1, 2021
Launched in June 2020, the movement saw thousands of pupils submit testimonies of sexual violence and misogyny via a dedicated website. Many of the allegations centred on independent (non-state) schools. The movement, which has been called “#MeToo for schools,” gathered momentum in the wake of in March, which sparked a about violence against women, girls, and marginalised genders in the UK.
The government has asked Ofsted — a government department charged with inspecting educational institutions — to begin an immediate review of safeguarding polices in both state and independent schools. The review, per a DfE statement, will ensure schools are given guidance on how to deal with sexual harassment and sexual violence allegations.
Education secretary Gavin Williamson said in a statement that he is determine to make sure “the right resources and processes are in place across the education system to support any victims of abuse to come forward.”
“No child or young person should have to experience abuse,” Williamson continued. “But if something isn’t right, they should speak to someone they trust to raise concerns, whether that’s family, a friend, teacher or social worker, helpline or the police.”
Everyone’s Invited released a statement in response to the government’s announcement and said it was “proud to have started a crucial conversation.”
“We are encouraged to see that the government has responded and taken the first initial steps to review rape culture in all schools,” the statement read. “We await confirmation from Gavin Williamson that Everyone’s Invited will be included in carrying out this review and are disappointed that he did not contact us before this announcement.”
The statement added that Everyone’s Invited are pleased that a dedicated helpline has been launched. “We are looking forward to hearing what action the government plans to take to address rape culture in universities,” the statement concluded.
The review will conclude by the end of May 2021 and “will seek to establish where safeguarding arrangements and processes are good and have worked well and where improvements are needed.”
If you have experienced sexual abuse at a UK school, contact the helpline on 0800 136 663 (Monday to Friday 8am – 10pm and 9am – 6pm on weekends) or email [email protected]
If you have experienced sexual violence and are based in the UK, call the Rape Crisis helpline 0808 802 9999.