Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 21st March 2019

Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)

Monday saw CSE Awareness day, the annual event to raise awareness of this issue within everybody’s child protection remit. CSE is a form of sexual abuse where people under 18yrs are manipulated / coerced into sexual activity in exchange for money, gifts, accommodation, affection, status or under threat.

This abuse exists online too through the use of social media platforms and also on Dark Web sites (the unindexed part of the internet only accessible by means of special software which allows users and website operators to remain anonymous or untraceable). Only 2% of Dark Web sites are attributed to contain sexually exploitative content however, more than 80% of all Dark Web users access this area, which has content including the cataloguing of sexual images of children categorised by age and characteristics.

CSE can happen to any child, anywhere, in many forms- do you and your staff know the signs? Click through to our checklist.

Music teacher spared prohibition order

A music teacher has avoided a ban from teaching after a professional conduct panel found that his touching of pupils was “not for sexual gratification”.

Simon Marsh, a former teacher at St Mary’s Catholic Academy, Blackpool, was accused of having massaged a pupil’s shoulders during a lesson, having placed his hands on or near a pupil’s waist whilst she was near a piano keyboard and having played with a pupil’s hair. He was also said to have commented “I’m glad you’re wearing shorts” when a pupil’s skirt blew up. Marsh denied all of the allegations.

Despite being aware Marsh had previously been given a formal warning for inappropriate proximity to a female student, the professional conduct panel of the Teaching Regulation Agency found that, whilst the accusations in their view had been proven, they considered them to fall short of unacceptable professional conduct stating “there was absolutely no evidence that Mr Marsh’s actions were in pursuit of sexual gratification”. The panel did find the proven actions to be “misconduct of a serious nature which fell significantly short of the standards expected of the profession”.

Even though concerns had been raised with Marsh as part of formal disciplinary procedures, the panel did not consider he had in response adapted his behaviour in accordance with the advice given. However, the panel felt that publication of their report was “sufficient to send an appropriate message to the teacher, to demonstrate the standards of behaviour that are not acceptable and meet the public interest requirement of declaring proper standards of the profession” and recommended that no prohibition order should be imposed.

Plea for financial support for adult CSE survivors

Tuesday saw a question in the House of Commons which asked “what steps are being taken to improve the experience of victims giving evidence in court?” Whilst the Victims Strategy published last September includes measures for victims giving evidence in court and there are further commitments in draft Domestic Abuse Bill, Sarah Champion MP raised the issue that there was no current statutory duty for adult survivors of CSE to get paid leave to give evidence. Currently they have to take unpaid leave or holidays placing them at a financial loss or not being able to give evidence. Champion stressed that not hearing the evidence of CSE victims had a direct impact on securing convictions and that no victim should be financially at a loss for seeking justice. Edward Argar MP Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice agreed to meet with Champion to discuss the issue.

Terrorist attack prompts doubling of funding

Following the terrorist attack in Christchurch which claimed the lives of 50 people and injured a further 40, here in the UK HM Government are to double next year’s Places of Worship fund to £1.6 million in order to reassure communities and provide further protection for worshippers. Home Secretary Savid Javid said “The horrific events in New Zealand are a direct attack on the values of tolerance and freedom of worship that unite us all. Nobody should ever fear persecution of their faith and it’s vital we stand together to reject those who seek to spread hatred and divide us”. To increase uptake in the fund and ensure it reaches those most vulnerable to hate crime, the bidding process will also be simplified so organisations no longer have to prove they have previously experienced a hate crime incident directly. In addition, a new £5 million fund (over 3 years) is to be opened to provide security training.

Court appearance for peer charged with historical sexual offences

Lord Ahmed, the former Labour peer who was charged last month with two counts of attempted rape and one count of indecent assault in the 1970s, appeared in court on Tuesday. The charges against the 61-year-old peer relate to two complainants – a boy and a girl – and to alleged incidents between 1971 and 1974, when he was a teenager. The indecent assault charge relates to a boy under 14. His solicitor stated Ahmed would be pleading not guilty to all charges.

Ahmed appeared at Sheffield magistrates court alongside his two brothers, Mohamed Farouq (68) and Mohammed Tariq (63). Farouq is charged with four counts of indecent assault against a boy under 14 and Tariq is charged with two counts of indecent assault against a boy under 14. All three men were granted bail to appear at Sheffield Crown Court on 16th April 2019.

Repercussions for Facebook user

Jo Campbell, Executive Head Teacher at Shaw Wood Academy has announced that the member of staff who posted content described as “abhorrent” on Facebook is no longer employed by the academy. The member of staff at the Doncaster school posted “Oh how the tables have turned, how does it feel being on the receiving end” beneath an article about the Christchurch terrorist attack. In her initial response to being alerted to the post, Campbell stated “I would like to reassure you that I, our staff and our governors share your abhorrence at the content of the Facebook post and that it is no way reflective of our school or the community it serves”.

This incident serves as a reminder to all schools, academies and colleges to ensure social media usage is addressed in their organisation’s ICT Acceptable Use policies and user agreements. These documents are a crucial element for governance to state their expected behaviour of employees and volunteers.

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