Educational professionals play a crucial role in protecting and safeguarding children. School staff will come into frequent contact with young people through the nature of their work and are therefore in a position to be able to spot any possible signs of abuse.
Often young people do not realise that their relationship with their groomer is exploitative and abusive; they may feel that they have a ‘special relationship’ with them. Groomers will use various ways of encouraging the relationship, such as flattery, attention and gifts, as well as threats and intimidation, to exert control over the young person and instil dependency.
School can safeguard children by:
- creating safe environments for children and young people through robust safeguarding practices
- ensuring that adults who work in the school, including volunteers, don’t pose a risk to children
- making sure staff are trained, know how to respond to concerns and keep up-to-date with policy and practice
- teaching children and young people about staying safe
- maintaining an environment where children feel confident to approach any member of staff if they have a worry or problem
- being aware of the process of making referrals to children’s social care teams/safeguarding teams
If any member of school staff has a concern regarding a young person, they should follow their own organisation’s child protection policy and speak to the designated safeguarding lead.
“The NSPCC, in partnership with the School of performance and media production at York St John University, has developed teaching resources to help children and young people recognise concerning behaviour and identify characteristics of positive relationships. It’s Not OK includes lesson plans, short films and accompanying activities about topics such as: harmful sexual behaviour; child sexual abuse; child sexual exploitation; sexting; and grooming. The resources are designed to be used with children and young people aged 11+.
It’s Not OK helps children and young people recognise concerning behaviour and identify characteristics of positive relationships. The lesson plans, films and accompanying activities cover what behaviour to look out for and how to respond to it.
It’s Not OK reinforces the importance of building and maintaining positive relationships and recognising and responding to behaviour relating to:
- online safety
- harmful sexual behaviour
- child sexual abuse
- child sexual exploitation”