Brook is a young people’s sexual health charity. We currently have clinical services in 10 areas of England, and we deliver sex and relationships education in about 10% of schools in England. We also develop resources for teachers, so we cover areas all around young people’s sexual health and relationships. In terms of the increase in offences, we know from the Women and Equalities Committee report, “Sexual harassment and sexual violence in schools”, that there are incidents in schools at a very early age. Quite often they are not dealt with seriously, and schools feel slightly at a loss as to how to respond to incidents.
We would like to see clear guidance for schools on how to deal with what they may see as insignificant incidents at primary school and upwards. They may see these incidents as innocent, not necessarily because the incident is more serious than that, but because dealing with it in a serious structured way starts to give a message to children that it is not acceptable. There is a sense that if you do not deal with it early and do not give those messages strongly early, then those incidents are likely to become more serious.