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Sexual Harassment and Abuse

Sexual violence and sexual harassment are never acceptable. You should speak to a member of staff if you have any worries or concerns about how you, or others, have been treated. You will be listened to, and you will be taken seriously.

Sexual violence

Sexual violence refers to sexual offences under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 as described below:

  • Rape: A person (A) commits an offence of rape if: he intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus or mouth of another person (B) with his penis, B does not consent to the penetration and A does not reasonably believe that B consents.
  • Assault by Penetration: A person (A) commits an offence if: s/he intentionally penetrates the vagina or anus of another person (B) with a part of her/his body or anything else, the penetration is sexual, B does not consent to the penetration and A does not reasonably believe that B consents.
  • Sexual Assault: A person (A) commits an offence of sexual assault if: s/he intentionally touches another person (B), the touching is sexual, B does not consent to the touching and A does not reasonably believe that B consents.


Consent is about having the freedom and capacity to choose. Consent to sexual activity may be given to one sort of sexual activity but not another, e.g. to vaginal but not anal sex or penetration with conditions, such as wearing a condom. Consent can be withdrawn at any time during sexual activity and should be given each time activity occurs. Someone consents to vaginal, anal or oral penetration only if s/he agrees by choice to that penetration and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice.

Sexual Harassment

When referring to sexual harassment we mean ‘unwanted conduct of a sexual nature’ that can occur online and offline. Sexual harassment is likely to: violate a child’s dignity, and/or make them feel intimidated, degraded or humiliated and/or create a hostile, offensive or sexualised environment.

Whilst not intended to be an exhaustive list, sexual harassment can include:

  • Sexual comments, such as telling sexual stories, making lewd comments, making sexual remarks about clothes and appearance and calling someone sexualised names
  • Sexual “jokes” or taunting
  • Physical behaviour, such as deliberately brushing against someone, interfering with someone’s clothes (schools and colleges should be considering when any of this crosses a line into sexual violence - it is important to talk to and consider the experience of the victim) and displaying pictures, photos or drawings of a sexual nature.

It may include:

  • Non-consensual sharing of sexual images and videos
  • Sexualised online bullying
  • Unwanted sexual comments and messages, including, on social media
  • Sexual exploitation; coercion and threats
  • Upskirting

Young Minds have put together some information on abuse and how to get help.

The NSPCC have a helpline for people who have experienced sexual harassment or abuse in education.

There is also a website – Stop It Now! - where you can receive confidential help and support if you are concerned about your own behaviour, or the behaviour of another child or adult.