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Reporting for sageguarding

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Tomorrow82, May 15, 2019.

  1. Tomorrow82

    Tomorrow82 New commenter

    I have had conversation with many teachers recently about what should be reported to safeguarding. One interesting point which has come up is sex. Some teachers have said if they suspect or knew of 2 students having sex they would report this to safeguarding, others have said they would not report this as it is part of growing up unless it was a concern due to students who are very young or a big age difference. I was wondering what other peoples opinions of this is.
  2. CheeseMongler

    CheeseMongler Lead commenter

    Which? If I suspected two students were having sex then I'd wonder why I am speculating about their personal lives. If I knew they were having sex (rather than just hearing rumours), that would mean that I had witnessed something I shouldn't or one of the students had disclosed this information to me. I'd report any facts that I was aware of - it's not my position to decide if it's "just a normal part of growing up" or it's something more concerning, that's the safeguarding officer's responsibility. My responsibility is to provide the safeguarding officer with the information needed to understand the bigger picture.
    peter12171 and grumpydogwoman like this.
  3. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    On the whole, I think the rule is "if in doubt, report" leaving it to the safeguarding officer to decide, but you need to have a reason for thinking something that is normal actually is an issue. If the two students are both 16 or more, then it is legal, so I wouldn't see it as a safeguarding issue unless there is a reason for thinking otherwise. If one of them is younger, then the other is breaking the law. As @CheeseMongler has pointed out, how you know or suspect it is of consequence.
  4. livingstone83

    livingstone83 Occasional commenter

    I would (and have) report(ed) it in cases of age discrepancy. I would (and have) report(ed) any of the signs that we've all been trained in spotting.

    When it comes to students sexual relationships, well.... The school's I have worked in, and having the position of Head of Year (KS4), if I was to report to safeguarding every time something about a sexual encounter between students was mentioned, I'd never leave the office.
  5. Tomorrow82

    Tomorrow82 New commenter

    I agree and this was were I stood. I am the lead in PSHE so students do talk to me about contraception or STDs and a member of staff was surprised I didnt report the students who said they were having sex. I have many times reported issues I've seen as you say training issues, however, I think the safeguarding officer in my school would start avoiding me on a daily basis.
    agathamorse and Piranha like this.
  6. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    If they were sixth formers, no I'd not report it. They are over the age of consent and it's down to their parents what to monitor. Similarly year 11s over sixteen.
    Younger than that, then yes I'd report it and leave the DSL to decide on any action or not.

    Mainly because, if I knew about it, they would be telling the world and that would raise alarm bells.

    If they were my current class of 3-4 year olds, yes I'd report it and refuse to let the children leave the premises until I was certain they weren't going home ever again!
    peter12171 and Piranha like this.
  7. Flanks

    Flanks Senior commenter

    The debate here is essentially about the difference between 'normal sexual behaviour' and 'harmful sexual behaviour'.

    Is it normal for teenagers to have an interest in and perhaps take part in sexual relationships? Yes.

    However, that is not the end of the story for teachers and I would suggest that outside the DSL/deputies, there are very very few teachers in a position of knowledge to decide whether the relationship is harmful or not. They have a duty to report any under-age sexual activity to their DSL, and let their DSL make that decision. If a teacher were found to be aware of a relationship at a later date, which turned out out to be harmful, and did not report it could be grounds for dismissal.

    Secondly, with regards to those saying 'if above 16'. Actually, this does not apply in schools, DSL should still be aware albeit that the likelihood of them acting upon it will be reduced. However, people should be more aware that although consent can be given at 16, in legal terms they are still children, and therefore the potential for criminal sexual exploitation remains. In other words, the DSL should still be made aware.
    CheeseMongler and HolyMahogany like this.
  8. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    Thinking of the the "Three Girls" mini-series (based on the Rochdale grooming rnig), I seem to remember that some of what started that ring being rumbled was someone going beyond "these girls are sexually active" and realising that there was more to it - older men, same names cropping up. That's not going to happen if nobody reports things to the DSL, who will hopefully get the bigger picture and be in a better position to judge what's going on.
    blueskydreaming likes this.
  9. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    Doesn't it? As far as I know, there is nothing that says that it does not apply to people still at school. Two 16 year olds in a consenting sexual relationship is not illegal. Where it does not apply is a relationship between a student and (say) a teacher.

    When I was a sixth form tutor, it was clear to me that some students were probably in a sexual relationship. I would only have reported it if I thought there was something odd about it, such as the partner being significantly older.
    peter12171 and agathamorse like this.
  10. HolyMahogany

    HolyMahogany Senior commenter

    What I think is clear from the different views expressed here on what should and should not be reported is that no one is 100% certain.
    Safeguarding training has continued to develop over the years and this is an issue that needs further consideration. Trouble is because most training like this consists of sitting through a power point, again. We just want to get to the end and probably don't go into much depth and detail about the issues.
    Of course if I had the answer, I would be making some extra money giving these presentations.
    In the mean time better safe than sorry so if in doubt report it - Remember the DSL can always send round a message to explain what they want reported and what they don't want to hear about.
  11. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    Time waster alert
  12. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    I'm with @CheeseMongler

    It sounds rather like reporting them for having SAID they were having sex rather than reporting them for HAVING had sex.
  13. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    What doesn't? The age of consent is 16 whether the sex takes place at home or in school. The only difference about ages of consent is if a teacher has a sexual relationship with a pupil. But isn't this thread about two pupils in a sexual relationship?
  14. Flanks

    Flanks Senior commenter

    The temptation is often to say 'they are 16' and that to be the end of the conversation. However, legally it can still be CSE under 18 and the school have an obligation to be vigilant. Hence, a teacher should refer to to DSL. As I said, chances of it going further will be reduced at 16+ but the awareness needs to be there for the DSL in case it is part of a larger picture.
  15. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    Sageguarding? Does your school have a herb garden? Cool!

    OK, flippancy over.

    TBH, I'd be concerned if there was evidence of grooming - a student turning up in brand new clothes, expensive gadgets, and being met after school by someone who clearly wasn't a parent/older sibling. Or becoming withdrawn from their own peer group. That's worrying.

    Regarding students having sex, kids like to brag, and in my experience, its those who boast most who do it least. Not to mention experiementation - I remember a shocked colleague telling me "there's a lot of bisexual girls in this school!" I had to gently point out that kissing another girl to shock the boys is not the same as actually living with and being with someone.

    But, If there was talk of pregnancy, then yes, report it. Mainly because in those cases I often suspect the parents haven't a clue what's been going on, and the school can point them towards support they need as well.
    agathamorse likes this.
  16. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    Let's be realistic here. At my school, there were approximately 500 students aged 16 or over. According to some research I have seen, the median age for first sexual intercourse is just under 16. That would mean that over 250 (and probably more) were likely to be sexually active. If we reported every student who we thought was having sex, it would become a full time job trying to investigate them. If I thought a particular situation was odd in some way, I would report it, but not the standard one of a student sleeping with somebody else of similar age.
    strawbs and agathamorse like this.
  17. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    A simple solution for somebody in doubt would be to ask their school safeguarding officer what they want to be told about. Has anybody done this, or is their a safeguarding officer around to tell us what they think?

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