MIL-OSI UK Cities: Tackling sexual harassment and abuse in all schools19 October 2021 The Safeguarding Partnership Board (SPB) has published an independent learning review into the handling of allegations of misogyny, sexism and sexual abuse, raised by students at Jersey College for Girls… Read more

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Source: Channel Islands – Jersey

19 October 2021

The Safeguarding Partnership Board (SPB) has published an independent learning review into the handling of allegations of misogyny, sexism and sexual abuse, raised by students at Jersey College for Girls (JCG), citing alleged actions involving some students at Victoria College.

In March 2021, two separate surveys were set up by two sixth formers at JCG who recorded 68 anonymous testimonies, from students, detailing misogyny, sexism and sexual abuse. 

Today, the full Independent Review, “You Couldn’t Avoid It”, by authors John Harris and Dr Susan Tranter, has been published on the Safeguarding Partnership Board website and shared with all schools and colleges in the Island. 

The review states that issues raised through the testimonies has implications for the culture in schools, not only at JCG and VCJ, but for all schools in Jersey.

The Department for Children, Young People, Education and Skills (CYPES) have immediately responded by committing to address school safeguarding procedures to understand the prevalence of sexual harassment and abuse in all Jersey schools and colleges. 

CYPES have asked Statistics Jersey to add the subject of sexual harassment to the Children and Young People’s Survey, this year, to gain an understanding of the prevalence of the issue in schools. 

And a learning event for professionals, who work with children and young people, was held yesterday, by the Chair of the SPB and John Harris, independent author of the review. 

Around 50 professionals from education, children’s social care, youth service and police discussed the findings of the review and how to work together to identify and tackle sexual harassment and sexual abuse in schools and colleges.

JCG and VCJ also held assemblies for students in Years 9 and above, ahead of the publication of the report, and CYPES arranged for professionals, from various services, to attend and offer support to any student who may be affected.

A communications campaign has also been launched to signpost students to the support services that can help with allegations of sexual harassment and sexual abuse. 

Children and Education Minister, Deputy Scott Wickenden, said: “I would like to offer my sincere gratitude to the students for their courage in seeking to bring these extremely concerning allegations of sexual harassment and abuse to light. In doing so, it has meant that we can investigate the prevalence in all schools across Jersey and develop guidance and responses to tackle this together. 

“I am pleased that senior officers in CYPES have been recognised in the independent review for their response in ensuring support for young people, who had experienced sexual harassment, was immediately made available when the allegations came to light and for establishing an ‘operation’ to coordinate a review of the way the students’ testimonies had arisen and been handled.

“This review will not only help to keep children and young people safe, seek to encourage young people to talk about their experiences and inform important learning for the future in education, but it also highlights there is a real need to address cultural issues of sexual harassment and abuse across society.”

Sarah Elliott, chair of the Safeguarding Partnership Board, said: “We commissioned this independent review to understand how events unfolded at JCG and Victoria College to inform work on strengthening how we identify and tackle sexual harassment and sexual abuse in schools and colleges. As part of this work, yesterday, we held an interactive learning event with professionals working with children and young people to support them with their work in this area.

“The event looked at how to understand and respond to young people’s experiences, create safe options for disclosure, develop safeguarding guidance for peer-to-peer abuse, partnership working, having the right conversation at the right time and developing a whole school response.”

Mark Rogers, Director General of CYPES, added: “This review has revealed some deeply disturbing issues. We are grateful to the students who carried out the survey and those who submitted testimonies and helped to bring the prevalence of sexual harassment to light. As we saw in England, following the Ofsted Review, sexual harassment and abuse is prevalent in Jersey schools. 

“I would urge all professionals who work with children and young people, parents, carers and young people to read the report. We must work together to change attitudes and tackle this damaging behaviour.”

Detective Superintendent Alison Fossey, of States of Jersey Police, said: “We understand that for some young people, submitting their testimony anonymously in response to the survey was enough. However, if victims do wish to report criminal offences to the States of Jersey Police, they can be confident that their account will be recorded. They will be treated with compassion and respect, with an impartial and proportionate investigation commenced, to identify any evidence, regardless of when or where the offence is said to have taken place.

“If any victims wish to come forward to report they can contact the States of Jersey Police or the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) at Dewberry House and speak to a young person’s independent sexual advisor.”

There is a range of support available for young people who may be affected, which includes:

  • The YES project (Youth Enquiry Service) offers information, advice and counselling for Young People up to 25 years old. It is free to call on 0800 7350 010 and is open from 12pm – 8pm every day.
  • School Based Counsellors can provide advice in schools. More information is available via the Government of Jersey website.
  • Kooth Jersey provides a safe, moderated and non-judgmental place for young people to talk, connect and chat with others and know they are not alone. The service offers drop-in or bookable sessions with professional counsellors between 12pm and 10pm on weekdays and between 6pm and 10pm on weekends. Young people can access Kooth by visiting www.kooth.com and selecting ‘Jersey Kooth’ during the sign up process. 
  • The Children and Families Hub offers support and help for safeguarding concerns. Please call the hub on 519000 or email childrenandfamilieshub@gov.je
  • Dewberry House, Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) provides emotional support, medical care, and long-term practical support to anyone impacted by any type of sexual offenses. They are available via a 24-hour helpline (01534 888222) and via www.dewberryhouse.je 
  • Young Person’s Independent Sexual Violence Advisor – 01534 441935
  • If a child is at immediate risk call the police on 999

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