The recent case of a little girl who recovered compensation after being sexually assaulted by boys in her school playground has highlighted the duty that local authorities owe to school children in their care.
Although the council did not accept legal responsibility for the assault, the out of court settlement reflects the fact that schools can be held liable for assaults on children by other pupils.
The child’s parents alleged that the school had failed to prevent the assaults from happening and that its staff had not been adequately trained to recognise the warning signs. They have explained that they took legal action in order to draw attention to the problem and the lack of support for a child assaulted by another pupil at school.
The five-figure compensation sum will be used to help the child recover from her ordeal, including funding for specialist counselling and therapy.
Assaults by children under 10 years old present a particular issue because they cannot be held criminally responsible and police have often been reluctant to record incidents.
Nevertheless, despite the absence of reliable statistics it is believed that the number of cases involving a child assaulted by another pupil at school is significant, with a range of offences being involved, including rape. This is reflected in our own experience by the number of enquiries we receive involving sexual violence in schools.
The problem has been officially recognised in the government’s updated guidelines for keeping school children safe, which now include specific reference to pupil-on-pupil sex abuse.
If you are a concerned parent of a child assaulted by another pupil at school and are looking for specialist legal guidance then give our free helpline a call on 0808 139 1590 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.We specialise in abuse cases and are able to deal with claims on a No Win, No Fee basis.