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Sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in schools and colleges

Advice for governing bodies, proprietors, headteachers, principals, senior leadership teams and designated safeguarding leads

This is advice provided by the Department for Education (the department). Its focus is child on child sexual violence and sexual harassment at schools and colleges. The advice covers children of all ages, from the primary through secondary stage and into colleges. For the purposes of this advice, a child is anyone under the age of 18. Whilst the focus of the advice is on protecting and supporting children, schools and colleges should of course protect any adult students and engage with adult social care, support services and the police as required.

The advice sets out what sexual violence and sexual harassment is, how to minimise the risk of it occurring and what to do when it does occur, or is alleged to have occurred.

The advice highlights best practice and cross-references other advice, statutory guidance and the legal framework. It is for individual schools and colleges to develop their own policies and procedures. It is important that policies and procedures are developed in line with their legal obligations, including the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Equality Act 2010, especially the Public Sector Equality Duty. It is important that schools and colleges consider how to reflect sexual violence and sexual harassment in their whole school or college approach to safeguarding and in their child protection policy.

The advice provides case studies. These are not intended to offer a step-by-step guide, but to provide an indication of some of the many options that are available.

The department has updated this advice in line with the revised statutory guidance Keeping Children Safe in Education. We will continue to keep the advice under review, particularly as we develop our approach to Relationship Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Personal Social Health and Economic (PSHE) education.