SUSPECTED sex offences in schools in the West Mercia Police area have almost quadrupled in the years 2013-14 to 2014-2015, figures obtained by global children’s charity Plan International UK reveal.
West Mercia Police classed 287 alleged incidents as sexual offences in Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire schools in the four years between 2011/12 and 2014/15.
40 reported sexual offences on school premises were recorded in 2011/12, 45 in 2012/13, 43 in 2013/14 and 159 in 2014/15.
Reported incidents included rape, sexual assault, sexual activity with a child, abuse of position of trust of a sexual nature, causing sexual activity without consent, exposure and voyeurism.
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 education helps young people to develop healthy attitudes towards sex and relationships while helping to tackle inappropriate and aggressive sexual behaviour.”
“While any cases of suspected sex offences in schools is troubling, the rise in cases may be attributable to children being made more aware of what constitutes normal relationships.
“It is worth recognising the work that has been done by police, schools and other authorities to encourage children to report such allegations so they can be investigating thoroughly. Only by doing so will we create the safe and secure learning environments our children deserve.”
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 (66 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.”
Within the reporting period (financial years 2014/2015, 2013/2014, 2012/2013, 2011/2012) there were 4,711 reported sexual offences on school premises in the UK, 471 of which were alleged rapes and 2975 other alleged sexual offences.
Data showed there were 2,751 recorded suspects, 357 of whom were teachers, 61 were school staff, 788 were pupils, 21 parent/relative/carer and 880 recorded as ‘unknown’.
To support Plan International UK’s Because I am a Girl campaign visit, http://www.plan-uk.org/because-i-am-a-girl/