How proactive monitoring can help tackle the sexual violence and sexual harassment culture in schools and colleges?
Earlier this year, Ofsted’s ‘Review of Sexual abuse in Schools and Colleges’ revealed that sexual harassment has become ‘normalised’ for children and young people. Many students admitted that they do not report sexual harassment incidents as it’s seen as typical behaviour or because they’re afraid of what will happen next. The results revealed that leaders and teachers often underestimate the problem by not identifying sexual harassment and sexualised language as a significant issue or by not being aware it’s happening.
Ofsted has put together a list of recommendations to help tackle the issue. They have also updated the education inspection booklets to ensure sexual harassment will be addressed appropriately in the future as well as schools and colleges have put preventative measures in place.
Ofsted’s recommendations to help tackle the sexual violence and sexual harassment culture in schools
Schools and colleges are now expected to assume that sexual violence and sexual harassment including online sexual abuse are happening even if there are no specific reports. They are also advised to adopt a whole-school approach to deal with all inappropriate behaviours and reported incidents, to ensure all kinds of sexual harassment are recognised and addressed.
From September 2021 schools and colleges will have to show how allegations and incidents of sexual abuse between pupils are handled when they occur. Additionally, they will need to specify what preventative measures are in place including behaviour policies and pastoral support as well as the relationships, sex and health education curriculum.
Furthermore, education professionals must be aware of the factors that can increase children’s potential vulnerability to sexual abuse as well as understand and address the reasons why children or young people may not want to report incidents.
How can proactive monitoring aid schools and colleges in tackling the sexual violence and sexual harassment culture?
Proactive monitoring works like an extra pair of eyes and ears for teachers and helps to make the invisible, visible. Digital monitoring technology working alongside human moderators helps to identify children and young people that are at risk by their online activities, search behaviour or use of apps. Saving Designated Safeguarding Leads (DSLs) time and enabling quick intervention.
Young people are more likely to speak to their friends and peers when they’re having issues instead of confiding in an adult, which is why proactive monitoring is so important. These kinds of conversations often happen in online chat rooms, social platforms or forums. Some children also write about their thoughts and feelings in online blogs or documents that can be quickly deleted.
Proactive monitoring solutions help schools and colleges keep an eye on what is happening in their digital environments at all times and can easily help DSLs identify students that are at risk of online sexual abuse. It will also identify anything that indicates that sexual harassment is happening elsewhere and alert the school or college in real-time.
Sexual harassment is not the only type of risk that proactive monitoring will identify. There is a vast list of safeguarding risk types and indicators that will be flagged to DSLs, including (but not limited to) mental health issues, substance abuse, self-harm, grooming, radicalisation and cyberbullying. The human moderators separate genuine risk from false positives enabling DSLs to concentrate on important issues, responding quickly and appropriately. The quicker the intervention the better the outcome.
Additionally, proactive monitoring technology can help the entire school community and not just individual students. Monitoring the digital environment can identify behavioural trends, which enables schools to see whether specific groups of students are at risk or if any specific issues/threats that may need addressing by the school as a whole. Identifying and understanding early risk indicators empowers school and college leaders to get ahead of possible issues as well as create a positive and supportive environment for their students.
Many schools and colleges are shocked by what proactive digital monitoring can reveal, which is why it is important to be reviewed and tested in your own digital environment. Only then you will be able to see and understand how it can benefit you and your students.
Download Smoothwall’s latest report ‘The Complete Guide to Active and Proactive Monitoring’ below to learn more, click here to download.
Alternatively, Smoothwall are running FREE online training sessions dedicated to each DSL and their school, college or MAT. The Smoothwall team will walk you through everything you need to know about digital monitoring.
The sessions are free of charge and last approximately 1 hour. To schedule yours please click here.