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Everyone's Invited: Investigate abuse claims in schools immediately, Government urged
30 March 2021, 09:05 | Updated: 30 March 2021, 13:35
Ministers must set up an inquiry into sexual harassment in Britain's schools immediately, Labour has demanded.
The calls follow thousands of testimonies posted to a website, Everyone's Invited, which anonymously reveal experiences of misogyny, harassment, abuse and assault in education.
Gavin Williamson, the Education Secretary, has urged survivors to make a report to a person they trust.
Writing to the minister, Labour MPs Kate Green and Jess Phillips said Everyone’s Invited has revealed the "scale of sexual harassment and abuse that is taking place around schools, colleges and universities across the country" and called for a "national strategy" to combat it.
“Swift and decisive action is needed to make sure that the education system is safe for every young person, and that sexist or misogynistic attitudes towards women and girls are stamped out early," the letter said.
They added: "Young people and their parents will be extremely concerned by the reports shared over the last week, they need to hear urgently from you and the Prime Minister on the steps that will be taken to ensure this culture of sexism, abuse and harassment cannot continue."
Among the 9,000 testimonies posted to the site are recollections of abuse that took place when the female survivor was at a young age, some in universities and some in school.
Many talk about how they did not understand what had taken place until years after the incidents.
Writing on Twitter, Mr 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.
"Any victim of these sickening acts that we've seen reported should raise their concerns with someone they trust, whether that's a family member or friend, a teacher, social worker, or the police. We will take appropriate action."
Chief Constable Simon Bailey, who leads Operation Hydrant, which investigates child sexual abuse in institutions, told The Times that the allegations are the education sector's Me Too moment.
"If somebody has been privy to rape or serious sexual assault then we want to hear from them," he said.
"What I fear is that there will be a number of sexual predators that will have moved from secondary school to university where they will continue to offend."
He said he believed there will be some instances where abuse in schools was covered up to protect reputations.
f you have been affected by any of these issues, you can contact The Survivor's Trust Helpline on 08088 010818 or online at email@example.com