Safeguarding newsletter for parents

'Safeguarding'. It's one of those words you hear a lot. We're publishing a regular newsletter to help you make sense of everything 'safeguarding'.

Edition 2: December 2021

Welcome to Co-op Academy Southfield’s second Safeguarding update for parents. 

This half term the area we have chosen to focus on from safeguarding is Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment (SV & SH). We want to share information with you so that we can all work together with the same aim of keeping our children safe in school, at home, and in the wider community.

Research by NSPCC has shown that children with disabilities are 3 or 4 times more likely to be victims of abuse. So it is important we all educate ourselves around SV & SH to protect our children.

What is Harmful Sexual Behaviour (HSB)?

This is when children might engage in behaviour that is abusive or sexual and not according to their age or development stage. The children may not be aware that this behaviour is wrong and that their actions can harm themselves or others around them.

Children with disabilities develop at different rates depending on the nature of their disability. For example children with learning disabilities may behave sexually in ways that is not according to their age. To help and protect them we need to take extra care in explaining to them about what is appropriate behaviour. 

The Law

The law is there to protect the victim, which means Sexual Harassment is illegal The law says:

  • A child under the age of 13 can never consent to any sexual activity.
  • The age of consent is 16.
  • Creating and sharing photos and videos of under 18’s is illegal. This is called Sexting. It also includes children sharing and making images and videos of themselves.

What is Online abuse?

Vulnerable children are at risk of online abuse from people they know or from strangers. It can happen on any device that’s connected to the internet and on any platform, including:

  • Social Media
  • Text Messages
  • Emails
  • Online chat groups
  • Online gaming
  • Live streaming sites

What Southfield does to keep children safe

  • We develop good communication skills, as our students communicate in a variety of ways and need to be heard.
  • We develop social interaction skills, this includes knowing when to say “no” and listening to someone when they say “no”. 
  • Make sure our child know that it is not always right to keep secrets if they relate to being safe. Talk about who they can share their worry with: a trusted adult, parent, teacher or doctor.
  • Make sure our child has a strategy to say no if something feels wrong. Talk about consent and what this means.

What can we do to keep our children safe?

To keep our children safe we need to continue to:

  • Encourage our children to be open and honest about their experiences so they can feel safe.
  • As parents, have conversations with our children that are appropriate to their development stage.
  • We all need to model our behaviour to show respect between the genders, so the children can see how to behave. 
  • Treat children with respect and dignity.
  • Challenge people who undermine the safety of children.