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Adult content is fuelling sexual assaults in schools. But what can we do to stop it?
There is evidence from the UK Government that sexual assaults are on the rise within schools across all educational sectors and demographics. But what can be done to stop these shocking statistics from growing further and protect the pupils and teachers?

Adult Content Is Fuelling Sexual Assaults in Schools. But How Can We Prevent It?

Research by the charity, Dignify, spoke to 4,000 children between 14-18 years old in secondary schools and found that 40% of those surveyed had watched pornography and horrifyingly, the average age they first watched it was twelve years old.

A headteacher for one of the schools surveyed said there is a direct correlation between students watching adult content and the rise in the number of students reporting sexual assault.

Even if harmful content is viewed at home or on personal devices, schools are still responsible for protecting students from accessing inappropriate online content when learning on-site and remotely.

Alarmingly putting children at high risk 

A separate study found that nearly a quarter of teenagers said they had viewed pornography at school. That’s what the charity, Common Sense found when they surveyed almost 1,500 teenagers.

These weren’t one-off cases either. More than half of those students who admitted to watching it at school said they did so several times a month. Some of these instances occurred on school-issued devices, which would undoubtedly shock parents and should prompt all headteachers to take immediate action.

A separate study by Ofcom in March 2024 revealed that children in primary schools were viewing harmful content online. This 'age inappropriate' content normalised issues such as self-harming or eating disorders, or put children at risk of cyberbullying.

The fact that students are viewing pornography on school-issued devices should compel Headteachers and DSLs to ensure they are doing enough to filter harmful and inappropriate content.

What can schools do to comply with statutory safeguarding guidance and keep students safe?

While some of this content is being viewed at home and not on school-issued devices, schools still have a responsibility to protect students from accessing inappropriate online content both at school and at home. Here are some steps they can take:

1. Advanced (and Appropriate) Content Filtering

Firstly, schools must install effective content-filtering software. This software blocks access to inappropriate websites and stops students from accessing harmful content. You can read more about the DfE’s filtering and monitoring standards here.


2. Set Up Monitoring Systems

Alongside filtering software, having a good monitoring system is crucial. This lets schools keep a close eye on the kind of inappropriate content students are viewing and stay one step ahead. Senso provides an all-in-one filtering and monitoring solution.


3. Educate Students

It’s not just about blocking bad content; schools also need to teach students about online safety. Incorporating measures around responsible internet use will teach students about safe internet practices, the risks of inappropriate content, and how to behave responsibly online.


4. Create Clear Policies

Schools need to have clear, easy-to-understand policies around internet use. This includes defining what’s acceptable and what isn’t, and the consequences if the rules are broken. Updating these policies regularly to keep up with new online challenges is important.


5. Partner With Tech Experts

Headteachers and senior leadership teams don’t have to tackle this alone. They can work with technology providers to ensure they’re using the best content filtering solutions and staying on top of the latest digital safety tools and practices.


6. Train Staff and Teachers

Teachers and staff are on the front lines, so they must know how to spot signs of online risks and how to handle them. Providing them with proper training can make a big difference, and it helps create a supportive environment where students are not afraid to raise concerns.

Software like Senso Cloud isn’t just there to stop children from accessing these sites. Schools should be utilising these tools to educate students about online safety and how to spot signs of risk. This will help schools make a real difference in keeping students safe online and creating a secure digital environment for learning and growth.


PSP’s team of senior IT professionals, with over 20 years of experience in the educational sector, is dedicated to providing excellent IT solutions for the schools we work with. We have partnered with Senso Cloud to offer a fully Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) compliant filtering and monitoring service. This service allows you to manage your network efficiently, monitor and safeguard all users, and promptly alert staff to any suspected violations.


Keep Students Safe With Senso Cloud

senso cloud free trial, filtering and monitoring software


As a Head Teacher or Designated Safeguard Lead (DSL), it's your responsibility to make sure your school has the right filtering and monitoring software in place to keep students protected when using school devices at home and on campus.

Senso Cloud is a web-based content filter that appropriately filters and blocks K-12 students from harmful or inappropriate content. As a Senso partner, PSP can implement the software across your entire network and make sure you stay on top of the latest digital tools and practices.

Protect your school and its pupils by requesting a free Senso 30-day trial today.

Article Sources: GOV.UK - Review of sexual abuse in schools and colleges

2nd July 2024