New partnership to explore school responses to harmful sexual behaviour
Dr Emily Setty has partnered with the Lucy Faithfull Foundation for a £270,000 project funded by the KPMG Foundation to develop and evaluate interventions designed to address harmful sexual behaviour among young people in schools.
This is an urgent and timely project where we will be working closely with affected groups in schools, including pupils, parents, and staff, to develop solutions to harmful sexual behaviour.Emily Setty
Responding to peer-on-peer harmful sexual behaviour is at the top of the government priority list. This follows the 2016 Women’s and Equalities Committee investigation into sexual harassment and sexual abuse in schools and the 2021 Ofsted review of sexual abuse in schools and colleges conducted in response to the Everyone’s Invited website which contained stories and testimonials from victim-survivors. The government has committed to addressing the issues and, as part of their guidance for Relationships and Sex Education, has instructed schools to do so via a ‘whole school approach’ that encompasses the social and cultural factors that shape harmful sexual behaviour.
To help schools in these endeavours, University of Surrey academic, Dr Emily Setty, is partnering with the Lucy Faithfull Foundation to undertake a £270,000 project funded by the KPMG Foundation aimed at making schools safer places by preventing harmful sexual behaviour and supporting schools to respond well when a harmful sexual behaviour incident occurs. This project is part of Dr Setty’s wider work in this field, which includes an evidence review on peer-on-peer harmful sexual behaviours in schools that she is leading for the Department of Education.
The Lucy Faithfull Foundation is a UK-wide charity whose mission it is to prevent the sexual abuse of children and young people. They use their expert knowledge to impact public policy, and to educate families, professionals, and the public. They believe that child sexual abuse, including peer-on-peer abuse, is preventable, not inevitable. In 2002, they launched the Stop It Now! helpline, which is available for anyone—young people, adults or professionals—with a concern about child sexual abuse and its prevention to get confidential advice and support. Dr Setty shares their vision and has conducted research directly with young people to explore how they define and experience harmful sexual behaviour.
The project will involve the development, implementation, and evaluation of interventions in a diverse range of 30 schools across the West Midlands and surrounding counties over a three-year period. The project will have a tangible impact on participating schools and the findings will be used to develop resources for all schools and to provide evidence and insights to influence government and education strategy. The project will also contribute to the body of knowledge around tackling and responding to harmful sexual behaviour in schools.
Dr Emily Setty, Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Surrey, said:
“This is an urgent and timely project where we will be working closely with affected groups in schools, including pupils, parents, and staff, to develop solutions to harmful sexual behaviour. The project will help us better understand the systems, structures, and cultures that need to be in place within schools to meaningfully prevent and respond to this longstanding social problem.”
Laura Nott, Schools Project Management at Stop It Now! with the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, said:
"We are delighted to be working together with Dr Emily Setty, from the University of Surrey, on this new prevention research project. Around one third of child sexual abuse is committed by under 18s and so it is vital that more research is done in this area to help prevent harm and educate young people. The findings from the research will be shared with schools nationwide and offer a genuine opportunity to prevent harmful sexual behaviour from happening and help young people feel safer both online and offline."