London: The number of sex offences in schools in England and Wales reported to police has almost trebled in four years with children as young as five being reported for such assaults, according to a study released today.
UK-based children’s charity Plan International found 10 sexual offences on school premises are reported to police in England and Wales on average each school day based on figures obtained from across the country’s police forces.
“Girls experience everyday harassment – unwanted touching, groping, namecalling – that goes on day-to-day,” said Lucy Russell, UK manager of girls’ rights campaigning at Plan International.
“There is an indication that the very heavily sexualised messages that children are getting from online pornography and sexualised videos is impacting on their behaviour, and it is changing the expectations they have around their relationships,” she said.
Girls were the victims in two-thirds of cases, and children as young as five were recorded carrying out assaults, the study said.
The charity requested figures under the UK’s Freedom of Information Act for arrests for rape and all other sexual crimes in schools from all 45 UK police forces for each of the last four years. Police Scotland declined the request and 10 other police forces did not respond.
Rape, child prostitution and sexual grooming were among crimes reported at schools last year.
The number of reports more than doubled in four years, from 719 in 2011-12 to almost 2,000 in 2014-15, an average of 10 every school day.
Plan International is calling for mandatory sex education in all schools to help tackle sexual harassment and violence.
A UK Department for Education spokesperson said: “Sex and relationship education is already compulsory in all maintained secondary schools and many academies and free schools teach it as part of the curriculum. We are looking at all options to raise the quality of personal, social and health education (PSHE) teaching.