Sexual harassment and sexual violence in schools

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Dear parents and carers,

You may have seen the recent coverage in the press re sexual violence and harassment in schools relating to the shocking Everyone’s Invited website and the recent Ofsted review into sexual abuse in schools and colleges. The vast majority of victims of sexual abuse in schools and wider society are women and girls and the vast majority of abusers are men and boys. We are determined that our girls are free from harassment and our boys grow up not being abusers. We have a zero tolerance of all sexual harassment and violence at Newhaven. To support this we have and are:

  • Reviewed our sexual harassment and violence policy to ensure it is robust and that all staff are clear on procedures.
  • Updated our safeguarding policy to ensure that children’s needs are at the centre of our work in this area.
  • Developed assemblies and the RSHE curriculum to ensure that students at Newhaven have a good understanding of the issues.
  • Consulted with the school council to make sure student’s opinions are at the heart of what we are doing and to develop a student friendly version of our policy for September.
  • Creating an anonymous survey for students to ensure that their voice is heard.
  • Focus on sexual violence in our parent partnership workshops.

Central to our policy is creating the conditions where students are able to tell us if they have been subjected to sexual harassment or violence. Our records show very little evidence that this is an extensive issue at Newhaven but the Ofsted report is clear that child victims often do not tell adults as they are worried about the consequences. We will continue to use our key adult programme and build relationships so our students can trust us enough to tell.

Parents obviously have a key role to play in all this as well in both educating your children and judging their stage of development so you know what is appropriate to teach them. We do the same through our RHSE curriculum. Can you please have or continue your conversations with your children to support the work we are doing and reinforce their understanding of the key message that Newhaven does not tolerate any kind of sexual harassment or violence and will challenge or respond to it wherever and whenever it occurs.

Sexual harassment can include:

  • Sexual comments, such as: telling sexual stories, spreading sexual rumours; making lewd comments, making sexual remarks about clothes and appearance and calling someone sexualised names;
  • Sexual “jokes”/ “banter” or taunting about a person’s sex life;
  • Asking intrusive sexual questions;
  • Making insulting comments about someone’s gender identity or sexual orientation
  • Making sexually offensive or suggestive gestures or facial expressions;
  • Physical behaviour, such as: deliberately brushing against someone, interfering with someone’s clothes (this may be considered as sexual violence) and displaying pictures, photos or drawings of a sexual nature.
  • Online sexual harassment such as:
  • Non-consensual sharing of sexual images and videos.
  • Sexualised online bullying.
  • Unwanted sexual comments and messages, including, on social media; and
  • Sexual exploitation; coercion and threats.

When referring to sexual violence we are referring to sexual offences under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 such as rape, sexual assault and assault by penetration. Definitions of these can be found in the policy by following the link below. It is critical that people understand the concept of consent.

What is consent?

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.

Further information can be found in our policy at Policies | Newhaven School. If you would like to ask any questions re this please ring the school and talk to your child’s pastoral manager.

Yours faithfully
Jon Kelly

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