A new national hotline for those affected by sexual abuse in schools has been welcomed by a Dundee campaigner.
But there also needs to be more accountability for offenders, says Beth Morrison, who has campaigned against child abuse in schools for more than a decade.
The UK-wide helpline, ran by NSPCC, was launched yesterday after hundreds of allegations of abuse were made online.
As well as supporting alleged victims, it will also provide a safe place for reporting sexual abuse in an education setting and assistance with contacting police if required.
Beth, of Solway Gardens, Monifieth, said: “It’s fantastic the helpline has been set up – anything we can do to encourage victims to speak out and encourage whistleblowing is a good thing.
“But we have to ensure that the support they need is there for them after doing that, and there needs to be more accountability and tougher penalties for abusers.”
Beth said the “trauma and pain” which victims and their families go through after abuse is often heightened when accountability is not seen to take place.
She said: “It’s very rare we get accountability. Children’s rights get continually abused and it is not upheld by society.”
Beth began campaigning in 2010 after her disabled son returned home from school with bruises and went on to win government backing against restraint and seclusion methods in schools.
She has since supported many families affected by abuse in schools.
She added: “Abuse is abuse. If these kinds of things were happening at home parents would be held accountable – schools need to be held to the same level of accountability.”
The NSPCC’s helpline was commissioned by the UK Government in reaction to hundreds of first hand accounts of alleged abuse posted anonymously on the Everyone’s Invited website.
Sir Peter Wanless, the charity’s chief executive, said: “The testimonies being shared through Everyone’s Invited are extremely upsetting and underline the urgent need to tackle violence against girls.
“This is a watershed moment thanks to those who have found the courage to speak out.
“All children should be able to grow up in a safe community that is free from sexual violence where their rights are respected.
“Creating a culture that fosters healthy relationships and challenges harassment and abuse is integral to this.”
The Report Abuse in Education helpline can be reached on 0800 136 663, on Monday to Friday 8am – 10pm, or 9am – 6pm at weekends. It can also be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org