Peer on Peer Abuse
What should schools be doing?
Unfortunately, peer-on-peer abuse can and does happen in a whole range of settings that children attend. However, it often goes unseen. It might take place online, for example, or away from the school or setting. Therefore, training for professionals to help them recognise the signs, and know what to do, is essential.
For schools, there’s detailed Department for Education advice on what to do if a child is sexually harassed or experiences sexual violence. This expands on the principles set out in the statutory guidance ‘Keeping children safe in education’.
We expect all our staff to be familiar with this guidance and to apply it. Staff should understand child protection policies and use them: there’s no point to a policy that is not put into action. It should be clear that peer-on-peer abuse will never be accepted or dismissed as ‘children being children’.
We expect all staff to know what to do if they come across, or are worried about, peer-on-peer abuse. They should know who to speak to and what action to take to make sure children are safe.
How do we understand what peer-on-peer abuse is?
Peer-on-peer abuse is most likely to include, but may not be limited to:
This is explained in paragraph 49 of Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE).
What is Peer-on peer sexual abuse?
This can take many forms, such as:
How do we provide appropriate training and regularly update staff?
All our staff need to maintain an attitude of ‘it could happen here’. They address inappropriate behaviour’s as soon as they happen, helping to prevent abusive/violent behaviour further down the line. Victims will be listened to and reports will be taken seriously.
It’s vital our staff know and can identify peer-on-peer abuse early to prevent it from escalating. We provide staff with regularly updated and appropriate safeguarding training that enables them to understand:
How do we report abuse?
If we are dealing with an allegation of peer-on-peer abuse, we follow our Safeguarding school policy and report incidents internally using CPOMS
Some of our safeguarding partners are:
How does our curriculum make sure children are taught about safeguarding, including how to stay safe online?
Our PHSE/RSE curriculum tackles (in an age-appropriate and inclusive way) issues such as:
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) has a range of safeguarding teaching resources including lesson plans on personal safety, healthy relationships and online bullying. Its 'Speak out Stay safe' programme also includes interactive assemblies and workshops on safeguarding for pupils in KS1 and KS2.
How can we support our pupils to feel confident to report abuse?
We have robust systems in place for pupils to confidently report abuse, sexual violence and sexual harassment. Worry boxes are available for children to express their concerns and child friendly posters are in prominent places to remind children who they can talk to.
Other organisations/ agencies we may work with?
Peer-on-peer abuse incidents and/or inappropriate behaviours can be associated with factors outside of the school. We consider the context when preventing and dealing with such incidents.
For example, when tackling violence it's important to we: