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Psychologists voice deep concerns about allegations of sexual abuse made by pupils in schools

31 March 2021

The Division of Educational and Child Psychology is deeply concerned about the recent allegations of abuse and ‘rape culture’ made by pupils in schools on the website ‘Everyone’s Invited’.

Schools should be a safe place for children and it is important that we support children, schools and families to make sense of their experiences. 

Dr Dan O'Hare, co-chair of the DECP, said:

“As educational psychologists we believe that it’s important, right now, to make time to listen to the children and young people who have chosen to share painful experiences. We need to ensure children have safe spaces to talk and be listened to. This might mean slowing down and being aware of the natural instinct to want to take action or ‘solve’ the problem.”

This news highlights the need for wider, systemic change within school culture and the curriculum. We need to normalise talking about relationships and sex with young people. Whilst these experiences have happened in school, we need to look at the connections between home, school and wider society and how children learn about relationships and sex.

To support young people if they choose to share their experiences it can be useful to:

  • Avoid the temptation to ‘want to do something’ about what has happened, that time will come, for now listen and help children reflect
  • Be aware and mindful of our own reactions when listening. Stay neutral and avoid reactions which might actually make children close up and stop sharing
  • Ask open questions and give children space to talk, even if this means some uncomfortable pauses in conversation
  • Ensure that adults working with children are fully aware of local safeguarding procedures and what to do if a child or young person is in danger or at risk of harm e.g. do school staff know who the Designated Safeguarding Lead is, within a school
  • Ensure parents know they can make contact with their school, or are signposted to appropriate agencies they can contact who can support them, if they have any worries or concerns

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