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School abuse: ‘Rape culture’ warning as 8,000 report incidents

More than 8,000 allegations have now been made by school pupils on a website gathering testimonies of sexual violence and abuse.

“Rape culture” was a problem for all schools, said Soma Sara, founder of the Everyone’s Invited website.

Many of the perpetrators are claimed to be at the same school or in the same social groups.

Norfolk Chief Constable Simon Bailey blamed the “volume of pornographic material that’s being consumed”.

“There’s an erosion of an understanding of what normal sexual relationships look like,” said the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead on child protection.

‘Normalising’ sexual violence
“We have a real problem here,” he told BBC News, saying that a police helpline would be set up and promising to “investigate those allegations which are of a criminal nature”.

The helpline will “ensure victims can access advice and support where needed”, said the Prime Minister’s official spokesman.

On Twitter, the Education Secretary for England, Gavin Williamson, said: “No school – whether an independent school or state school – should ever be an environment where young people feel unsafe, let alone somewhere that sexual abuse can take place.”

“The allegations that I have heard in recent days are shocking and abhorrent.”

Mr Williamson said “any victim of these sickening acts” should raise their concerns with someone they trust, such as a teacher, family member or the police. “We will take appropriate action,” he wrote on Twitter.

Robert Halfon, chairman of the House of Commons education select committee, called for a “full independent inquiry to find out why so many female students have suffered from sexual abuse and harassment”.

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