The Harmful Sexual Behaviour Support Service has been operating as a pilot service in January 2022. The service aims to provide support to all professionals working with children and young people when responding to incidents or issues surrounding harmful sexual behaviours.
In 2021 a website called ‘Everyone’s invited’ was created, their mission to “expose and eradicate rape culture with empathy, compassion and understanding.”, “providing a safe place for survivors to share their stories completely anonymously”. Hundreds of children and young people have posted testimonies sharing their often awful experiences of sexual harassment and harmful sexual behaviour in schools and colleges. This caught national attention and Ofsted swiftly conducted a rapid review of Sexual abuse in schools and colleges. The review found that:
92% of girls and 74% of boys said sexist name-calling happens a lot or sometimes to them or their peers. The frequency of these harmful sexual behaviours means that some children and young people consider them normal
To help further understand the issues affecting young people and the professionals working with them, the home office commissioned the ‘Harmful Sexual Behaviour Support Service’ operated by SWGfL in partnership with the Marie Collins Foundation.
The service which provides telephone and email support to professionals has responded to over 600 cases relating to queries and incidents of harmful sexual behaviour amongst young people. A range of children’s professionals have been in touch with the helpline such as; school staff and senior leaders, social workers, medical professionals, and care assistants.
As well as providing expert advice to those getting in touch, over the 10 months of operation, the service has gathered a wealth of knowledge and understanding about incidents of harmful sexual behaviour and what support professionals need to respond appropriately.
As the service comes to a close, we have drawn on this expert knowledge to draft some free resources, we feel could really help professionals, schools and other children’s organisations to tackle harmful sexual behaviour effectively.
The resources available in this pack are:
The purpose of this document is to support schools to create a good foundation in understanding, recognising, and responding to incidents of harmful sexual behaviour.
The policy can be adapted to suit your specific setting and should be referred to when responding to any incidents of harmful sexual behaviour to ensure a consistent and safe approach across the school community.
The policy should be used by school staff to help guide responses but should also be available to the whole school community (students, staff, and parents) to help increase understanding of the issues and what the school’s response to harmful sexual behaviour is.
The existence of this document can go to help reassure the school community that the schools are taking positive steps to respond to and reduce incidents of harmful sexual behaviour in their setting.
This document can be used by schools and other children’s organisations to assess the level of risk to the child displaying harmful sexual behaviours and other children around them.
The purpose of this document is to assist schools and other children’s organisation to carry out a risk assessment to when responding to incidents of harmful sexual behaviour. The purpose of the risk assessment is the protect and support all those involved by identifying potential risk, both in and out of school (e.g., public transport, after school clubs etc) and by clearly describing the strategies put in place to mitigate such risk.
The risk assessment will be completed following a meeting with all professionals working with the learner, as well as parents or carers. Where appropriate, the learners involved will also be asked to contribute.
The risk assessment will be shared will all staff who work with the learner, as well as parents and carers. It will respond to any changes in behaviour and will be regularly updated and evaluated to assess impact.
We have heard from many schools frustrated that incidents of harmful sexual behaviour being displayed by a child are escalating beyond what the school can manage, especially where there might be wider safeguarding issues or concerns surrounding the child/ family. A number of schools have reported that they have exhausted all their possible options, and the interventions they have tried have had no effect on behaviour, it is felt then that intervention is required from social case to either assess the child or enact a safety plan.
The purpose of this document is to help schools and other organisations (such as care facilities) write effective referrals to their local children’s social services, to request help and intervention in relation to harmful sexual behaviour being displayed by a child or young person. The intention is to make this process as clear and straightforward as possible, resulting in a positive response from the body you are requesting help from.
The purpose of this document is to help increase understanding of the type of incidents of harmful sexual behaviour.
These FAQ’s are based on cases that have been reported to the Harmful sexual behaviour support service (HSBSS) and aim to provide some guidance on what to do should you be dealing with something similar.
This document can also be a useful resource to share with staff to help raise awareness of harmful sexual behaviour incidents.
We have created this training module drawing on the expertise gained from operating the Harmful Sexual Behaviour Support service. This training looks at what harmful sexual behaviour is and how schools can appropriately respond to it.
Our free Online Safety Polcy Templates enable you to create your very own Online Safety Policy for your school that whilst built on our expertise, includes content that makes it unique and relevant for your school or organisation.
Read this document from SWGfL around written evidence for the Online Safety Bill
SWGfL has released a new, downloadable infographic with data revealing how the service supported cases throughout its pilot in 2022.
22nd May 2023
Included in this article are some steps schools can take to help prevent and manage incidents involving harm on and offline.
25th April 2023
In this article we explore ways in which professionals can address harmful sexual behaviour whilst looking at what the current research is showing.
21st April 2023
Professor Andy Phippen joins the Interface Podcast to discuss how teachers can effectively approach the subject of pornography with young people.
14th April 2023