The Everyone’s Invited movement has highlighted deeply distressing abuse suffered by young people from across the UK, who found the courage to share their harrowing experiences online. We cannot and must not ignore their testimony.
Safeguarding our children is at the very heart of everything we do in our schools. The heartbreaking testimony on the Everyone’s Invited website is a stark reminder of why keeping children safe is of paramount importance and why we must remain constantly vigilant to all forms of abuse, including child-on-child sexual abuse and harassment.
At Horncastle Education Trust we view safeguarding as critical and take all forms of abuse seriously. We have a range of different ways for children to raise any concern they have or to report abuse or harassment. Children can even report their concerns anonymously. Schools actively listen to their children and have staff who are not only trained to manage reports of abuse, but are skilled in listening and supporting their children. This is underpinned by the work undertaken with children in the classroom where they learn about safeguarding, healthy and respectful relationships, respectful behaviour and consent as well as how to stay safe online. Children are taught that sexual violence and sexual harassment are always wrong and about how to establish positive, honest and respectful relationships. The new RSE curriculum is something that will further augment and deepen the work we already do. The culture running through all our schools is founded on respect, equality, inclusivity and trust.
We recognise the crucial role we play in teaching our children about sex and relationships and in helping them to be respectful, responsible and empathetic. We are listening to those that have courageously spoken out and encourage anyone who has suffered abuse or has been affected by the testimony, to make contact; speak to someone, email or simply click on the ‘anonymously report’ button on a school’s website – you will be heard, we will listen and we will support.
To keep children safe, we draw upon the support and advice of many different outside agencies. We will continue to work with them, our children, staff, parents and the wider community to identify what further actions we can take to ensure that every child feels safe at school, knows how to report and feels confident that when reporting they will be believed and their testimony acted upon.