A UK helpline run by an independent children’s charity for victims of sexual abuse and harassment at schools and universities has received hundreds of calls reporting misconduct allegations since it was set up on April 1.
The support service was established by the UK’s Department for Education (DoE) and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) after numerous allegations of sexual misconduct in educational establishments were reported on a website and Instagram account dedicated to “eradicating rape culture.”
An Instagram account and website titled ‘Everyone’s Invited’ was launched by then-graduate student Soma Sara in June 2020, who began sharing her personal experiences of rape culture and other people’s anonymous accounts. While the site was designed to allow reports from anyone to be shared, thousands of testimonies alleging misconduct in schools and universities were submitted and published online.
The flood of stories to the website sparked the creation of a dedicated helpline by the DoE and NSPCC on April 1, which has since received over 353 calls reporting allegations of inappropriate behaviour against young individuals, making 65 referrals to police and children’s services.
Out of the issues raised in the calls to the helpline, the NSPCC stated that peer-to-peer exploitation, harassment, and sexual abuse were the most common allegations made, ranging from ‘upskirting’ to distributing indecent photographs, to assault and rape.
Thousands of stories have so far been shared by Everyone’s Invited since it was set up last year to provide victims with somewhere to share their experiences and highlight problems that exist within schools and universities throughout the UK.
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Speaking on Monday as the NSPCC revealed the scale of the calls received so far, the head of the new helpline, Kam Thandi, called the ability to report misconduct “absolutely vital,” praising the “courage” of individuals who have contacted officials about their experiences.
The UK’s education secretary, Gavin Williamson, responded to the helpline’s activities so far by stating that it is important to support all victims of abuse and ensure they can feel confident and safe reporting allegations.
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