Comment on Allegations of Sexual Abuse on School Premises

Commenting on the FOI data on the number allegations of sexual abuse on school premises, Alison O’Sullivan, President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, said:

“The disparity between the number of allegations of sexual abuse reported by the police force and the council can be put down to two factors. Firstly, where an allegation of sexual abuse is reported to the police it is not always the case that it will be referred on to the local authority. Following a full investigation if the police find that the allegation poses no real risk of harm to a child they will not bring it to the attention of children’s services. And secondly, in relation to the high incidence of peer on peer abuse some minor behaviour issues may appear to be sexual in nature but found to be “normal” behaviour between pupils can fail to meet local authority thresholds for an enquiry. Where appropriate the child or children involved will be referred on to other safeguarding agencies such as charities who may be able to provide therapeutic support to those involved.

“In an increasingly digital where children are exposed to new risks, we need to adequately equip young people to keep themselves safe and understand appropriate behaviour. Some young people who sexually abuse others are themselves victims of abuse – and we must help break the cycle of victims becoming perpetrators of the future. Other children may struggle to understand boundaries as a consequence of exposure to inappropriate material such as online pornography, violent films or computer games, or extreme literature. Whatever the cause we must look to understand the nature and patterns of these allegations to ensure that a child does not suffer harm. Our members will continue to work together with the police and our safeguarding colleagues in schools, health services, and the voluntary sector to properly protect the most vulnerable.”


The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) Ltd is the professional leadership association for Directors of Children’s Services and their senior management teams in England.

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