Peer on Peer Abuse Policy
Keeping Children Safe in Education, 2020 states that ‘Governing bodies and proprietors should ensure their child protection policy includes procedures to minimise the risk of peer on peer abuse and sets out how allegations of peer on peer abuse will be investigated and dealt with’.
While it is recommended that peer on peer abuse is associated with the school Safeguarding Protection Policy, due to the sensitive nature and specific issues involved with peer on peer abuse this separate policy guidance template has been completed to annex to your School Safeguarding Protection Policy.
At Co-op Academy Swinton we are committed to ensure that any form of peer on peer abuse or harmful behaviour is dealt with immediately and consistently. This will reduce the extent of harm to the young person and minimise the potential impact on that individual child’s emotional and mental health and wellbeing.
Children can abuse other children. This is generally referred to as peer on peer abuse and can take many forms. This can include (but is not limited to): abuse within intimate partner relationships; bullying (including cyberbullying); sexual violence and sexual harassment; physical abuse such as hitting, kicking, shaking, biting, hair pulling, or otherwise causing physical harm; sexting and initiation/hazing type violence and rituals.
There is no clear boundary between incidents that should be regarded as abusive and incidents that are more properly dealt with as bullying, sexual experimentation etc. This is a matter of professional judgement.
If one child or young person causes harm to another, this should not necessarily be dealt with as abuse: bullying, fighting and harassment between children are not generally seen as child protection issues. However, it may be appropriate to regard a young person’s behaviour as abusive if:
- There is a large difference in power (for example age, size, ability, development) between the young people concerned; or
- The perpetrator has repeatedly tried to harm one or more other children; or
- There are concerns about the intention of the alleged young person.
If the evidence suggests that there was an intention to cause severe harm to the victim, this should be regarded as abusive whether or not severe harm was actually caused.
As a school we will minimise the risk of allegations against other students by:
- Providing a developmentally appropriate PSHCE syllabus which develops students understanding of acceptable behaviour and keeping themselves safe
- Having a robust online and mobile technology safety programme which develops students’ knowledge, understanding and skills, to ensure personal safety and self-protection when using the internet and social networking
- Having robust monitoring and filtering systems in place to ensure students are safe and act appropriately when using IT in school
- Having systems in place for any student to raise concerns with staff, knowing that they will be listened to, believed and valued
- Delivering targeted work on assertiveness and keeping safe to those students identified as being at risk
- Developing robust risk assessments and providing targeted work for students identified as being a potential risk to other students
Allegations against other students which are safeguarding issues:
Occasionally, allegations may be made against students by other young people in the school which are of a safeguarding nature. Safeguarding issues raised in this way may include physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, teenage relationship abuse and sexual exploitation, bullying, cyber bullying and sexting. It should be considered as a safeguarding allegation against a student if some of the following features are present.
- Is made against an older student and refers to their behaviour towards a younger student or a more vulnerable student
- Is of a serious nature, possibly including a criminal offence
- Raises risk factors for other students in the school
- Indicates that other students may have been affected by this student
- Indicates that young people outside the school may be affected by this student
Examples of safeguarding issues against a student could include:
Physical abuse may include, hitting, kicking, nipping, shaking, biting, hair pulling, or otherwise causing physical harm to another person. There may be many reasons why a child harms another and it is important to understand why a young person has engaged in such behaviour, including accidentally, before considering the action or sanctions to be undertaken. This can include Domestic abuse in intimate relationships between students.
Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behaviour among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behaviour is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both young people who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems.
In order to be considered bullying, the behaviour must be aggressive and include:
- An imbalance of power: Young people who bully use their power – such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity – to control or harm others. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people.
- Repetition: Bullying behaviours happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once.
Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumours, attacking someone physically or verbally or for a particular reason eg. size, hair colour, race, gender, sexual orientation, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.
Cyber bullying is the use of phones, instant messaging, email, chat rooms or social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to harass, threaten or intimidate someone for the same reasons as stated above.
It is important to state that cyberbullying can very easily fall into criminal behaviour under the Communications Act 2003, Section 127 which states that electronic communications which are grossly offensive or indecent, obscene or menacing, or false, used again for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to another could be deemed to be criminal behaviour. If the behaviour involves the use of taking or distributing indecent images of young people under the age of 18 then this is also a criminal offence under the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
Outside of the immediate support young people may require in these instances, the school will have no choice but to involve the police to investigate these situations.
Sexting is when someone sends or receives a sexually explicit text, image or video. This includes sending ‘nude pics’, ‘rude pics’ or ‘nude selfies’. Pressuring someone into sending a nude picture can happen in any relationship and to anyone, regardless of their age, gender or sexual preference. However, once the image is taken and sent, the sender has lost control of the image and these images could end up anywhere.
By having in their possession, or distributing, indecent images of a person under 18 on to someone else, young people are not even aware that they could be breaking the law as stated as these are offences under the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
Can include blackmail or extortion and may also include threats and intimidation. This harmful behaviour can have a significant impact on the mental health and emotional well-being of the victim and can lead to self-harm.
Sexually harmful behaviour from young people is not always contrived or with the intent to harm others. There may be many reasons why a young person engages in sexually harmful behaviour and it may be just as distressing to the young person who instigates it as well as the young person it is intended towards. Sexually harmful behaviour may range from inappropriate sexual language and inappropriate role-play to sexually touching another or sexual assault/abuse. It can also include indecent exposure, indecent touching/serious sexual assaults or forcing others to watch pornography or take part in sexting.
Teenage Relationship Abuse
Teenage relationship abuse is defined as a pattern of actual or threatened acts of physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse, perpetrated by an adolescent (between the ages of 13 and 18) against a current or former partner. Abuse may include insults, coercion, social sabotage, sexual harassment, threats and/or acts of physical or sexual abuse. The abusive teen uses this pattern of violent and coercive behaviour in a heterosexual or same gender relationship, in order to gain power and maintain control over the partner.
This can include encouraging other young people to engage in inappropriate sexual behaviour or grooming and recruiting members of the peer group into being sexually exploited by other young people or adults. It can also include photographing or videoing other children performing indecent acts.
Racial Abuse or Religious Hate
Something is a racist or religious hate incident if the victim or anyone else thinks it was carried out because of hostility or prejudice based on race or religion group. A racial group means a group of people who are defined by reference to their race, colour, nationality or ethnic or national origin. This includes:
- Gypsies and travellers
- Refugees and asylum seekers
- Jews and Sikhs
Procedure for dealing with allegations of peer on peer abuse
When an allegation is made by a student against another student, members of staff should consider whether the complaint raises a safeguarding concern. If there is a safeguarding concern the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) should be informed.
- A factual record should be made of the allegation, but no attempt at this stage should be made to investigate the circumstances.
- The Designated Safeguarding Lead should contact The Bridge Partnership to discuss the case. The Designated Safeguarding Lead will follow through the outcomes of the discussion and make a referral where appropriate.
- If the allegation indicates that a potential criminal offence has taken place, through the Bridge Partnership, the police will become involved.
- Parents, of both the student/s being complained about and the alleged victim/s should be informed and kept updated on the progress of the referral.
- The Designated Safeguarding Lead will make a record of the concern, the discussion and any outcome and keep a copy in the Secure Safeguarding Records.
- If the allegation highlights a potential risk to the school and the student the school will follow the school’s Behaviour Policy and procedures and take appropriate action.
- In situations where the school considers a safeguarding risk is present, a risk assessment should be prepared along with a preventative, supervision plan.
- The plan should be monitored and a date set for a follow-up evaluation with everyone concerned.
You can also download a PDF of this Policy here:
Peer on Peer Abuse Policy | November 2020