Child on Child Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment
Child-on-child sexual violence and sexual harassment
All those who are part of our community believe that sexual violence and sexual harassment is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.
We understand that sexual violence and sexual harassment can occur between two or more children of any age and sex. It can occur online. It can also occur through a group of children sexually assaulting or sexually harassing a single child or group of children. Sexual violence and sexual harassment exist on a continuum and may overlap.
We recognise that children who are victims of sexual violence and sexual harassment will likely find the experience stressful and distressing. This will, in all likelihood, adversely affect their educational attainment and will be exacerbated if the alleged perpetrators(s) attends our setting.
Staff are aware that some groups are potentially more at risk. We know that evidence shows girls, children with SEND and LGBTQ+ children are at greater risk.
We will work to ensure our whole-school community are aware of the importance of:
- challenging inappropriate behaviours;
- making clear that sexual violence and sexual harassment is not acceptable, will never be tolerated and is not an inevitable part of growing up;
- not tolerating or dismissing sexual violence or sexual harassment; and,
- challenging physical behaviours (potentially criminal in nature), such as grabbing bottoms, breasts and genitalia, pulling down trousers, flicking bras and lifting up skirts. Dismissing or tolerating such behaviours risks normalising them.
For the purpose of this policy, we use the term ‘victim’, ‘alleged perpetrator(s)’ or where appropriate ‘perpetrator(s)’. Ultimately, the use of appropriate terminology will be determined, as appropriate, on a case-by-case basis.
Along with providing support to children who are victims of sexual violence or sexual harassment, we will provide the alleged perpetrator(s) with an education, safeguarding support as appropriate and implement any disciplinary sanctions. We recognise that a child abusing another child may be a sign they have been abused themselves or a sign of wider issues that require addressing within the culture of our setting. Taking disciplinary action and providing appropriate support, can, and should, occur at the same time if necessary.
We understand that reports of sexual violence and sexual harassment are extremely complex to manage. We know it is essential that victims are protected, offered appropriate support and every effort is made to ensure their education is not disrupted. We also know it is also important that other children, adult students and our staff are supported and protected as appropriate.
We will try to be aware of, and respond appropriately to all reports and concerns, including those outside of our setting, and or online.
Whilst the focus of this policy is on protecting and supporting children, we will of course protect any adult students and engage with adult social care, support services and the police as required.
Our staff are aware of sexual violence and the fact children can, and sometimes do, abuse their peers in this way both inside and outside of our setting. We refer to sexual violence as sexual offences under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 as described below:
Rape: A person (A) commits an offence of rape if: he intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus or mouth of another person (B) with his penis, B does not consent to the penetration and A does not reasonably believe that B consents.
Assault by Penetration: A person (A) commits an offence if: s/he intentionally penetrates the vagina or anus of another person (B) with a part of her/his body or anything else, the penetration is sexual, B does not consent to the penetration and A does not reasonably believe that B consents.
Sexual Assault: A person (A) commits an offence of sexual assault if: s/he intentionally touches another person (B), the touching is sexual, B does not consent to the touching and A does not reasonably believe that B consents.
Causing someone to engage in sexual activity with consent: A person (A) commits an offence if: s/he intentionally causes another person (B) to engage in an activity, the activity is sexual, B does not consent to engaging in the activity, and A does not reasonably believe that B consents. (This could include forcing someone to strip, touch themselves sexually, or to engage in sexual activity with a third party.)
We believe that consent is about having the freedom and capacity to choose. Consent to sexual activity may be given to one sort of sexual activity but not another, e.g.to vaginal but not anal sex or penetration with conditions, such as wearing a condom. Consent can be withdrawn at any time during sexual activity and each time activity occurs. Someone consents to vaginal, anal or oral penetration only if s/he agrees by choice to that penetration and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice.
- a child under the age of 13 can never consent to any sexual activity;
- the age of consent is 16;
- sexual intercourse without consent is rape.
When referring to sexual harassment we mean ‘unwanted conduct of a sexual nature’ that can occur online and offline both inside and outside of our setting. When we reference sexual harassment, we do so in the context of child-on-child sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is likely to: violate a child’s dignity, and/or make them feel intimidated, degraded or humiliated and/or create a hostile, offensive or sexualised environment.
Whilst not intended to be an exhaustive list, sexual harassment can include:
- sexual comments, such as: telling sexual stories, making lewd comments, making sexual remarks about clothes and appearance and calling someone sexualised names;
- sexual “jokes” or taunting;
- physical behaviour, such as: deliberately brushing against someone, interfering with someone’s clothes
- displaying pictures, photos or drawings of a sexual nature,
- upskirting, and
- on-line sexual harassment.
We will follow the guidance set out in UKCIS Sharing nudes and semi-nudes: advice for education settings working with children and young people
The Voyeurism (Offences) Act, which is commonly known as the Upskirting Act, came into force on 12 April 2019. We recognise ‘Upskirting’ is where someone takes a picture under a person’s clothing (not necessarily a skirt) without their permission and or knowledge, with the intention of viewing their genitals or buttocks (with or without underwear) to obtain sexual gratification, or cause the victim humiliation, distress or alarm. It is a criminal offence. Anyone of any sex, can be a victim.
Harmful sexual behaviour
Children’s sexual behaviour exists on a wide continuum, from normal and developmentally expected to inappropriate, problematic, abusive and violent. Problematic, abusive and violent sexual behaviour is developmentally inappropriate and may cause developmental damage. We use the term “harmful sexual behaviour” (HSB). HSB can occur online and/or face to face and can also occur simultaneously between the two. We will consider HSB in a child protection context.
We will follow the specialist support and advice on HSB available from the specialist sexual violence sector. Our DSL will undertake training in HSB and incorporate this into our approach to managing sexual violence and sexual harassment. This training will include the Brook Traffic Light Tool.
Addressing inappropriate behaviour can be an important intervention that helps prevent problematic, abusive and/or violent behaviour in the future. Children displaying HSB have often experienced their own abuse and trauma. We understand it is important that they are offered appropriate support.