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Reports of sexual offences in Cumbria schools revealed

[R]eports of sexual offences at Cumbria schools are revealed in figures obtained by global children’s charity Plan International UK.

Cumbria Police classed 100 alleged incidents as sexual offences in the county’s schools in the four years between 2011/12 and 2014/15.

In Cumbria, 13 reports of sexual offences on school premises were recorded in 2011/12, 12 in 2012/13, 10 in 2013/14 and 65 in 2014/15.

Reported incidents included sexual assault, abuse of a position of trust of a sexual nature, sexual grooming, rape and sexual activity with a child.

Plan International UK is calling for the government to commit to mandatory sex and relationships education which covers sexting, consent, healthy relationships and the law.

“This shows that we’re failing young people when it comes to learning about healthy relationships and consent,” says Plan International UK Head of Girls’ Rights Kerry Smith.

“Quality sex and relationships helps young people to develop healthy attitudes towards sex and relationships while helping to tackle inappropriate and aggressive sexual behaviour.”

Nationally, reports of sexual offences in schools have more than doubled in four years to 1,955 in 2014/15.

Figures were disclosed after a Freedom of Information request of UK police forces with 34 of 45 responses across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Police Scotland declined the request on cost grounds.

Alleged offences ranged from harassment to serious sexual assaults and rapes. Less than one in ten suspected cases resulted in criminal charges or summons.

Other national findings include:

  • Nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) of alleged victims are girls or women
  • 94 per cent of alleged offences are committed by men or boys
  • 15 per cent are thought to be committed by school staff, including teachers

“Clearly girls and women are disproportionately affected by sexual violence in schools,” says Ms Smith.

“Young people need education about the realities of life and relationships, including consent.”

Plan International UK’s flagship Because I am a Girl campaign tackles gender inequality around the world, including violence in schools.

The charity has submitted evidence to the ongoing Women and Equalities Parliamentary Select Committee inquiry on sexual violence in schools.

Although more than two-thirds of police forces responded, data submitted contained many gaps and inconsistencies.

“Given the nature, severity and school setting, it’s alarming that reporting on this data is inconsistent across police forces,” says Ms Smith.

Plan International UK works with children and their communities in more than 50 countries worldwide.

One of the main barriers for the 62 million girls across the world missing out on an education is gender based violence, including unwanted sexual contact in or around school.

“This is a global problem. Girls and boys need clear messages that unwanted sexual contact in or around school is not acceptable, says Ms Smith.

Earlier this year, Plan International UK revealed how one in five women in the UK had experienced sexual violence in or around school as schoolgirls.

To support Plan International UK’s Because I am a Girl campaign visit, http://www.plan-uk.org/because-i-am-a-girl/

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