Children being sexually exploited at Rugby schools

Rugby charity RoSa is reporting an increase in children being harassed and initimidated
Rugby charity RoSa is reporting an increase in children being harassed and initimidated

Sexual exploitation and drug use have been identified by officials as areas of “concern” in Rugby secondary schools.

Rugby MP Mark Pawsey described the report as ‘extremely distressing’ and has taken steps to find out what’s being done about the findings.

Child sexual exploitation is a form of abuse which involves children - male and female - receiving something in exchange for sexual activity.

The information is on the Warwickshire Health and Wellbeing agenda, and was due to be discussed at Shire Hall in Warwick yesterday (Wednesday).

The report said: “The Drugs & Alcohol Action Team have recently been made aware of concerns regarding sexual exploitation and drug misuse amongst secondary school children at a number of Rugby schools.

“We responded to this by holding an initial multi-agency meeting involving social care, schools, young people services, council safeguarding and police. This will be followed up by an action plan with appropriate interventions that will be overseen by this group over the course of the year.”

Rugby MP Mark Pawsey said he was “very concerned” about the issue. He added: “I have written to the county council raising my own concerns given the information in the report and seeking confirmation of the steps being taken to respond to this extremely distressing situation.”

The experience of Linda Lewis, manager of Rugby’s rape and sexual abuse group RoSA, supports the report’s claims. She said: “We are seeing an increase of young people not recognising the importance of personal boundaries.

“For example, they have reported being groped by their peers in school. Some tell us they feel harassed and intimidated due to the sexually aggressive language being used.

“It is clear that some teenagers are being pressured or manipulated into taking part in sexually inappropriate activities.”

She added: “We’ve learned some of these problems are down to young people and children being exposed to illicit material at much younger ages than other generations ever had.

“It is not uncommon to see children from the age of ten carrying mobile phones and having a computer with access to the internet where they can quite innocently, gain access to sites containing pornographic and obscene pictures.”

She said RoSA has seen young people who have been ‘tricked’ into situations they can’t get out of.

Linda added: “Girls can be tricked into attending a party or function and on arrival find this isn’t the case and is met by the boy who went on to carry out sexually inappropriate behaviour with the girl. We’ve also had reports of sexual bullying where both girls and boys are made to feel stupid in they don’t participate in some of these behaviours.

She said RoSA has seen young people who have been ‘tricked’ into situations they can’t get out of.

Linda added: “Girls can be tricked into attending a party or function and on arrival find this isn’t the case and is met by the boy who went on to carry out sexually inappropriate behaviour with the girl. We’ve also had reports of sexual bullying where both girls and boys are made to feel stupid in they don’t participate in some of these behaviours.

“There are other types of exploitation that are far more common, for example peer on peer sexual exploitation, where teenagers are pressuring their peers into doing sexual acts such as putting explicit photos of themselves on social media sites.”

A spokesperson for NHS Coventry and Rugby Clinical Commissioning Group, which plans and pays for the majority of health services in Rugby, said: “We are fully committed to working with all of our partners across Warwickshire to tackle any issue of child sexual exploitation. Safeguarding, or protection, is everyone’s responsibility. Keeping children safe is one of the most important thing we can all do but no one agency can do it alone.”

RoSA provides free workshops to Rugby schools, youth clubs, community ventures and any other agency working with young people, partly funded by the borough council. RoSA’s helpline is (01788) 551151 or email support@rosasupport.org.