Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 28th February 2019


Relationships and Sex Education- FGM

On Monday the DfE announced that the dangers of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) will be taught to all secondary school pupils. Included in the draft regulations presented in parliament this week for compulsory relationships and sex education (RSE), the new curriculum framework, if passed, will come into force from September 2020.

The new curriculum stipulates that secondary schools should;

  • address the physical and emotional damage caused by FGM
  • raise awareness of the support that is available
  • ensure pupils know that FGM is illegal in England, Wales and Northern Ireland

The head of the National FGM Centre, Leethen Bartholomew, has called for earlier intervention highlighting that most girls become victims of FGM at primary school age.

Bartholomew stated that the work of the FGM Centre has shown this can be done “in a child-centred way that can achieve the intended outcome of safeguarding children.”


Home Office

The Offensive Weapons Bill will make it harder for young people to buy knives online. New laws will require photo ID to be produced on receipt of knives bought online delivered to residential addresses. The Bill will also ban public and private possession of weapons such as zombie knives and knuckle dusters.

Domestic Abuse Bill

Last week we reported on the draft Domestic Abuse Bill. In further news HM Government is supporting the Bill with additional funding and increased capacity for services to support disabled, elderly and LGBT victims, recognising that domestic abuse occurs in all forms of relationships and that anyone can be a victim regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

In 2017 the Men’s Advice helpline, funded by the Home Office received 13,237 phone calls from male victims of domestic abuse.

All calls to the Freephone 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline are confidential- 0808 2000 247.

Roman Catholic priest- guilty of child abuse

Father Francis McDermott, a 75-year old Roman Catholic Priest, has been found guilty of abusing 6 children in the 1970s and is due to be sentenced on 18 sex offences, which includes 15 indecent assaults. McDermott was also found guilty of 2 indecent assaults on a male and 1 charge of indecency with a child.

Whilst working in a number of different parishes in London, High Wycombe and Aylesbury between 1971 and 1979, the priest used his position to create friendships with families in order to gain the trust of children and sexually abuse them. McDermott is due to be sentenced next month.

In a speech made last week at a Vatican summit, Pope Francis stated that he wants the Catholic Church to “act decisively” to root out sexual abuse of children by priests.

Teacher banned following inappropriate social media use

A teacher who suggested a pupil send him pictures of his penis on Facebook has been banned from teaching. Benjamin Bird, the 37-year old pastoral lead at Bridge Learning Campus, has been banned from teaching following his inappropriate Facebook contact with pupils and former pupils. The teacher-conduct panel heard that Bird sent messages which included references to masturbation and a request for a pupil to send him a picture of his penis.

In Bird’s absence, the panel found him guilty of breaching professional standards and failing to observe proper boundaries appropriate to a teacher’s professional position. The panel’s report stated:

“The expressions he used in the messages were repeatedly of a sexual nature and we have found proved not only that the messages were sexual in nature, but also that Mr Bird sent them for the purposes of sexual gratification.”

Banned from teaching indefinitely and from teaching in any school, sixth-form college, relevant youth accommodation or children’s home in England, Bird has 28 days to appeal.

Anti-Slavery

Sara Thornton, a police officer with more than 30 years’ experience, has been appointed as the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner.

The role, effective from May 2019, has been created as part of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 with a UK-wide remit to give independent advice on modern slavery issues and how they should be tackled.

This includes:

  • encouraging good practice to drive an increase in the identification and protection of victims of modern slavery
  • ensuring the provision of enhanced support for all victims and survivors in the UK
    driving effective prevention of slavery and human trafficking offences
  • promoting an improved law enforcement and criminal justice response to modern slavery across the UK
  • engaging with the private sector and promote policies to ensure that supply chains are free of slavery
  • fostering constructive and targeted international collaboration to combat modern slavery

Thornton, who received the Queen’s Police Medal and was awarded a CBE in 2011 is “looking forward to bringing my long experience as a chief constable and in national policing to bear in this important role.”

Concerns can be made online or via the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700.

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