Sexual Abuse in Schools & Colleges
Sexual abuse in schools is at the forefront of public interest as thousands of victims have spoken out about their historical experiences, leading to several public inquiries.
Triggered by several high-profile cases, and the overwhelming number of testimonies posted on the website ‘Everyone’s Invited’, the authorities are taking a serious look at the systems and processes within educational institutions to understand the nature and scale of the issue.
Ofsted has launched a full review into the procedures that schools and colleges have in place to safeguard pupils, whether they empower pupils to report abuse freely and whether schools are responding effectively to allegations.
The Department for Education has stated that it will take immediate action if it becomes clear that a school is failing in any safeguarding practices and has warned that it would close schools if necessary.
Following the significant attention that this issue is now receiving, it is likely that a number of arrests will be made over the coming months.
How can we help?
Being accused of a sexual offence can be devastating for both you and your loved ones. A criminal conviction of this nature can have life-changing consequences.
Sexual offence allegations are extremely sensitive and often complex. You will need a legal team that has experience and a comprehensive understanding of this area of law and the ability to unravel the complexities surrounding difficult issues such as consent.
The types of sexual offences that occur in schools and colleges include:
- Assault by penetration;
- Sexual assault;
- Sexual activity with a child;
- Sexual abuse by a professional;
- Revenge porn;
- Possession, production and publication of indecent images;
- Child sex offences committed by young persons.
It is a criminal offence to force or incite a child to engage in sexual activity, including contact and non-contact activities such as the viewing of sexual images and/or sexually explicit digital communications.
Sexual offences against children are often viewed as the most serious crimes that can be committed. In the last decade, following a series of high-profile child sexual abuse cases, investigations and prosecutions for these types of offences has increased significantly.
The criminal defence lawyers at Clifford Johnston & Co have a wealth of experience in handling cases involving sexual offences in schools.
We have a reputation for being dedicated, tenacious and tireless in our approach to every case. You will be given clear and honest advice so that you have a full understanding of your situation and we will keep you fully informed throughout each stage of your case.
If you are facing allegations of a sexual nature, engaging the services of Clifford Johnston and Co. offers you the optimum chance of securing a positive outcome. Our credentials speak for themselves, having been shortlisted as finalists for Crime Team of the year at the Manchester Legal Awards in both 2019 and 2020.
Ofsted undertake full scale review into sexual abuse in schools
The government has directed Ofsted to conduct an immediate review of safeguarding policies and procedures in state and independent schools and colleges in relation to sexual abuse.
The review will examine several specific areas, including:
- Do the existing frameworks allow inspectors to properly assess safeguarding procedures in schools?
- How can schools be supported to best deliver the new RSHE (relationships, sex, and health education) curriculum?
- How well are the multi-agency safeguarding processes working?
- Are children’s voices being properly heard when reports of sexual abuse are made?
- Why don’t children report sexual abuse when it occurs?
The aim of the report is to understand “…the range, nature, location and severity of allegations” of sexual abuse in schools. The government hopes to gain insight into the barriers to reporting and how they can be overcome.
Ofsted have stated that it will visit "a sample of schools and colleges where cases have been highlighted".
Teachers accused of sexual offences
The Sexual Offences Act 2003 sets out the law that applies to all child sexual offences. Penalties for sexual offences against children are severe and can result in sentences of life imprisonment.
In the majority of cases involving sexual abuse by teachers on pupils, the child is under the age of 16.
Criminal proceedings can also be brought where a person, for example a teacher, engages in consensual sexual activity with a child between the ages of 16-18, provided that person was in a position of trust in relation to the child. These types of offences are defined by s.16 – s.24 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
Offences that may be committed by teachers includes:
- Sexually activity with a child under 16 years of age;
- Causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity;
- Engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child;
- Causing a child to watch a sexual act;
- Meeting a child following sexual grooming;
- Sexual communication with a child.
Various studies have shown that most cases of sexual abuse in schools are not reported until many years later. Complainants may not speak out because they do not fully understand what has happened to them, do not know that it was wrong, or the alleged offender has convinced the child to keep the activity a secret.
If you are accused of an historic sexual offence, please get in touch.
Abuse of position of trust sexual offences.
Sections 16 – 24 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 sets out the offences that can be committed by a person in a position of trust. Although the offences cover all children aged under 18, they are specifically designed to protect young persons aged 16 and 17.
Section 21 defines ‘position of trust’ and confirms that the following persons occupy such a position:
- Teachers and other staff in educational institutions;
- Doctors in hospitals, clinics and care homes;
- Prison Officers;
- Social workers and foster carers in foster homes and young offender institutes.
- Police officers.
In addition to a criminal investigation, a findings of sexual misconduct can lead to dismissal for gross misconduct and, for certain professions, removal from their professional body’s register. A teacher, for example, could be prohibited from teaching for life.
Sexual abuse and sexual harassment between children
A government report found that 30% of girls and 6% of boys reported experiencing sexual harassment at school - and thousands received counselling for sexual assault.
When considering harmful sexual behaviour between children, it is important to consider the ages of the people involved and their stages of development.
Sexual abuse in schools can sometimes occur between two children and/or through a group of children sexually abusing a single child or group of children. It can occur both online and offline.
Sexual harassment can include:
- Lewd comments;
- Calling someone sexualised names;
- Interfering with someone’s clothes;
- Making or sharing a sexual image or video;
- Physical abuse;
The Sexual Offences Act 2003 also applies to offences where the alleged offender is a child or young person under the age of 18.
In the UK, schools have a legal duty to safeguard and protect children and young people under the age of 18. Everyone who meets the child while they are under the school’s care, has a role to play in identifying concerns and taking appropriate action.
Schools must make sure that there are procedures in place to manage all safeguarding concerns, including peer on peer abuse and allegations against staff. A failure to do so may constitute a criminal offence.
If you are a child, or the parent of a child, accused of committing a criminal offence, please get in touch. We can help and make a difference.
Why choose Clifford Johnston & Co?
Clifford Johnston & Co. is a firm with significant experience and expertise in defending clients accused of child sex offences. We offer high quality legal representation and will use every resource at our disposal to ensure that you have the best possible defence.
Our clients appreciate our non-judgmental approach, and they know that they will be treated with sensitivity and respect.
If you are facing allegations of a sexual offence, including in a school or college, it’s imperative that you contact us as soon as you can. We have been defending clients for over 35 years and have the skills and knowledge required to defend you, mitigate your case if necessary and to get you the right outcome.
If you or someone you know is facing allegations of a child sexual offence, get in touch with us for confidential advice and representation. We can make a difference.
Contact our child sexual offences lawyers today
We are proud to offer expert legal services nationally which is affordable and cost-effective.
We act for teachers across the UK in relation to criminal investigations and proceedings, in addition to cases before the Teaching Regulation Agency.
With offices in Stockport and Manchester, our expert sexual offence solicitors are easily accessible. In addition, we have the technology to meet you remotely from anywhere in the world.
We are expert Criminal Solicitors in Manchester, Stockport, Cheshire and we regularly represent clients across the UK.