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Schools abuse site Everyone's Invited seeks ideas for ‘positive change’

Posted on Apr 04, 2021

Survivors of sexual abuse in schools are being urged to share their suggestions on how harassment and violence against students could be tackled.

Soma Sara, the 22-year-old founder of Everyone’s Invited, an anti-rape movement focused on “exposing rape culture through conversation, education and support”, has created a new section on its website that allows users to anonymously post their ideas for positive change. The aim is to share the community’s findings with the government and develop solutions.

Last month, Everyone’s Invited went viral after more than 13,000 users posted testimonies detailing their experiences of misogyny, sexual abuse, harassment and assault in school. The children’s charity NSPCC launched a helpline, while the schools regulator Ofsted and the government announced immediate reviews.

Sara said the aim of her initiative was to listen to survivors and amplify their voices. She added: “The Department for Education has worked tirelessly on launching the NSPCC helpline and Ofsted review, and we are encouraged by this. But helplines already exist. We can do more. We recognise this as an opportunity for everyone to share their suggestions for positive change.”

She called for people to keep talking and listening. “Rape culture is everywhere. Have you spoken to your friends? Your dad? Your sister? Let’s not be bystanders, let’s have the courage to challenge this behaviour, call it out and encourage everyone to do the same. Boys, girls, young men and women all need to be part of the conversation and the solution. Let’s not criminalise young people – let’s educate, rehabilitate and empower them.”

Sara, who attended Wycombe Abbey school in Buckinghamshire before studying at University College London, said she was stunned by the momentum the site had picked up. “It’s been an extraordinary response. I don’t think I could have ever imagined it to get to this stage, and I do know that this problem was huge,” she said. But even though I’m not surprised, it’s still shocking.”

Ofsted, the watchdog, is to look at safeguarding policies in state and independent schools as it reviews the “extent and the severity of the issue” raised by the site, and will work to ensure there are appropriate systems in place to allow pupils to report their concerns.

The review will also look at ensuring there is enough guidance on how schools should deal with sexual harassment and violence allegations, and whether current inspection systems are strong enough to address any concerns.

The helpline run by the NSPCC aims to support potential victims of sexual harassment and abuse in schools, and offers guidance on how to contact police and report crimes.